Technical study: Maggie’s Oldham

Maggies Centre Oldham

dRMM’s centre for the cancer care charity hovers above its landscaped garden like a giant treehouse – and represents the practice’s most ambitious use yet of cross-laminated timber.

The Maggie’s Centres have attracted some of the world’s biggest names in architecture over the last 21 years and are famed for their quality design. But the buildings haven’t necessarily been bywords for technical innovation.

However, the charity’s latest and 21st cancer drop-in centre, Maggie’s Oldham designed by dRMM, has become the world’s first permanent building made from hardwood cross-laminated timber, breaking new ground in how this cutting-edge material is used. Built in the grounds of the Royal Oldham Hospital, the single-storey, free-standing pavilion marks the culmination of years of testing by the American Hardwood Export Council, Arup and dRMM into the design possibilities of building with the material.

Maggie’s Oldham follows closely on the heels of dRMM’s pioneering Endless Stair, a temporary installation that used American tulipwood CLT for the first time at the London Design Festival in 2013. In fact, the fabrication of the hardwood CLT panels used for the centre coincided with making the tulipwood CLT panels for Alison Brooks Architects’ The Smile, a 34m-long curved rectangular tube on show at last year’s London Design Festival.

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