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22 MAGGIE’S BARTS, LONDON


VESSELS


The scheme was first envisioned by Steven Holl as “a vessel within a vessel – within a vessel” Watercolour by Steven Holl


Ascending via the stair to the third floor, the user meets another open plan area serving as a yoga, Tai Chi, and event space. This opens onto a roof terrace featuring flowering trees, meeting the charity’s requirement for a garden on this tight infill site. “From there you can look out over trees and historic buildings – you feel like you’re in a British village, not in London,” says McVoy. McVoy notes that the planning process was long and drawn-out, with the planners requiring that the building link to the site’s heritage buildings, including the Great Hall located inside the adjacent original stone building. Accordingly, each floor provides direct access to its neighbours. In addition, new toilets in the basement of the centre and a new lift also provide the Great Hall with functional amenity as part of the planning agreement.


Neume inspiration


Regarding the design intent for the building’s exterior, Steven Holl uses the term “complementary contrast” to the


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creation of an authentically new piece of architecture that also doesn’t overwhelm the pre-existing buildings it adjoins. McVoy adds: “In order to be complementary, you don’t have to fit into the exact historical style. We don’t build in thick stone now, so why should we add in stone details that are just a few inches thick?” In this spirit, the new building was to


have “a translucent glass skin that would be full of light, and soft, in contrast to the heavy stone facades of the surrounding historical buildings,” comments McVoy. The curved corners of the new centre were also designed in homage to the stone corner quoins of the original Gibbs buildings. The outer layer of the facade is composed primarily of matte white glass, arranged into 90 cm horizontal bands designed to resemble a musical stave. Its surfaces are etched both inside and out to produce a soft white membrane decorated with coloured glass fragments representing the ‘neume’ system of notation used in 13th century medieval music. The word neume has its etymological roots in the Greek word


ADF FEBRUARY 2019


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