Zaha Hadid and Kirkcaldy

Interesting interview with iconoclast architect Zaha Hadid in The Guardian.

Hadid has recently won the The Stirling Prize for her National Museum of 21st Century Art, in Rome, which appears to resemble some sort of cubist Star Wars, AT-AT Walker.

National Museum of XXI, Rome. Design by Zaha Hadid.

For such a lauded and controversial architect (in Britain !) it is quite surprising to learn that she has only had two designs realised in the UK.  The recently opened Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton and her first built work in the UK: Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre in Kirkcaldy which was opened in 2006.

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Hadid designed this building for no fee and the people of Fife, raised over £500,000 towards the cost of its construction.

Her design at the Victoria Hospital was a result of a brief to: ‘create a relaxed atmosphere where people can access additional support outside of the more clinical hospital environment’.  This challenge is in keeping with the ethos behind all the Maggie’s Centres which were the vision of the late Maggie Keswick-Jencks and her plea to improve care for people with cancer in the UK.  She was a firm believer in the capacity of buildings and space to uplift people, even in the most challenging personal circumstances.

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Her husband Charles Jencks is still actively carrying this vision forward and five centres, have now been constructed across the UK, all designed by world-renowned architects: Frank Gehry in Dundee, Daniel Libeskind in Cambridge, Page and Park Architects in Glasgow and Inverness and Zaha Hadid in Kirkcaldy.

The site of Hadid’s Maggie’s Centre is in a hollow to the south-west of the main entrance of the hospital where it stands on the edge of a fairly steep valley to the South.  The hollow has overgrown foliage and a line of trees provides a natural setting to distance the building from the rest of the original hospital.  As the building is a single-storey construction, it provides a continuation of the border that the trees already provide. One of the overall objectives for the design of the centre was that it should be a transition between the two different types of spaces, the natural landscape and the car park/hospital.  This has arguably been undermined somewhat by the colossal new 525 bed extension which has been built immediately adjacent to the centre and you can almost feel it crowding out and pushing Hadid’s building into the valley.  This is further accentuated by Hadid’s design, with its angular prow and folded in wings, which appears to float over the edge of the steep chasm. Part spaceship, part cubist crow, poised to take flight out over the trees and on to the stars.

A truly liminal space…

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Now playing: Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal

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