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MAGGIE’S BARTS, LONDON


23


‘pnevma’, meaning ‘vital force,’ which also spoke to the designers. As they put it in their statement: “It suggests a ‘breath of life’ that fills oneself with inspiration like a stream of air, the blowing of the wind.” The concrete structure beneath the glass “branches like a hand.”


The ancient notation was also chosen by the architects for the facade to allude to the parallels between both the temporal and spatial effects of music and architecture. “Music engulfs you, it surrounds you,” says Holl, “and it has in it the quality of time. And, architecture surrounds you in the same sense. And as you move through, it has a sense of time.” He continues: “I think there’s something very similar about these two arts, and what’s interesting to me is when music inspires architecture.”


When quizzed on how the building fits stylistically into the architects’ portfolio, McVoy echoes these thoughts, crediting light, along with time, as the primary creative inspirations for Steven Holl Architects’ buildings. In the context of


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Barts, the three-floor elevation and semi-translucent skin enable these themes to manifest fully. As the user moves into the building and ascends from the kitchen area, “each level unfolds in a different way.” McVoy emphasises how the elements of light and time work together at Maggie’s Barts. As day turns to night, the coloured glass elements slowly become more vivid from the building’s exterior as lighting glows from inside, while during the day coloured light is filtered through the building envelope and projected into its spaces. The complementary ‘neume’ colours were hand-selected by Steven Holl based on a set of studies.


The building’s shape as well the material specified for the facade placed limitations on where the colour could be applied. Okalux glass is manufactured with short lengths of straw-like fibres in the material, and due to its physical properties colour could be applied only to flat surfaces. Some of the glass is both sloping and curving, “like a J-shaped hockey stick.” The architects discovered these parts could


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The new building would 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”


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