Maggie’s Highlands Cancer Caring Centre at Raigmore Hospital Inverness is a one and a half storey timber frame building designed to reflect and harmonise with the adjacent landscape designed by the critically acclaimed landscape designer Charles Jencks. The building seeks to provide a rich warm and ‘homely’ environment for the users of the Centre – essentially anyone associated or involved in anyway with cancer.
The building is conceived as an inversion of one of the spiralling landscape mounds adjacent the building – the walls angling away from the vertical by 10º and wrapping around to form a rising spiral shape.
Despite the complexity of the geometry, the designers wished to construct the building as a timber frame, thus continuing the environmental symbiosis of landscape and building through into the building’s structure itself.
The structural engineer – SKM Anthony Hunt worked with Carpenter Oak and Woodland Ltd to develop a low-tech and affordable timber frame and panel solution comprising laminated plywood chords cut to curve top and bottom of each wall, with infill softwood and laminated structural studs. Large section douglas fir was used for exposed feature columns. The softwood studs were treated with boron as an alternative to other carcinogenic preservative treatments and the only steel used in the building envelope was restricted to nails, screws, straps, tie wires and column fixing plates.
Structural timber I joists supplied by James Jones and Sons were utilised in the long span roof structures along with kerto laminated timber joists by Finnforest. As with the wall panels, the roof structures were plated top and bottom with OSB/3 boards to form a monocoque type composite structure.
Internally, the building is clad in solid birch plywood fully bonded to the OSB/3 structural boarding, and finished internally with a clear Class 1 fire retardant lacquer (all fitted by Morrison Construction). Externally the birch cladding is finished with a Sikkens translucent woodstain (from their new ‘Natural Balance’ range) enabling the internal and external surfaces to appear continuous.
Birch plywood with exposed edge grain was utilised in all fitted furniture and feature building elements including staircase, library, fitted shelving, kitchen worktop and bench seating (by Telford Fine Furniture)
An enclosing fence to an adjacent private garden space sweeps into the heart of the building and the rough sawn heartwood of larch vertical boarding used externally on this wall continues internally to contrast with the fine smooth plywood linings.
Finally, a hardwood jatoba floor (FSC certified and fitted by MacKay Flooring) was chosen for its rich warm characteristics, contrasting with and ‘anchoring’ the lightness of the surrounding internal finishes.
Structural EngineerSKM Anthony Hunt
SpeciesScots Spruce, Douglas Fir, Larch, Birch ply, Jatoba
ClientMaggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Caring Centres Trust
JoineryCarpenter Oak & Woodland, Telford Fine Furniture