Construction has begun on Steven Holl’s controversial Maggie’s cancer-care centre at London’s St Bartholomew’s Hospital, which the architect says will respect rather than mimic its historic setting.

Maggie’s Barts is getting built next to the Grade I*-listed Great Hall, completed in 1738 by Scottish architect James Gibbs.

Conceived by the architect as a “vessel inside of a vessel within a vessel”, the three-storey Maggie’s Barts will characteristic a branching concrete framework with a bamboo lining and an interior of the two matt-white and coloured glass.

The modern style has been a subject of contention considering that it was initial revealed in 2012, but the undertaking was granted preparing permission in July and the creating is now on target to open in late 2016, changing a demolished 1960s construction.

“Right after creating my initial sketches many years in the past, I am incredibly grateful for this particular day,” said Steven Holl at the ground-breaking ceremony yesterday.

The coloured glass fragments will be organized in horizontal bands, intended to reference a musical employees.

Critics have argued that the building’s modern physical appearance would have a detrimental impact on its setting within London’s oldest hospital and attempted unsuccessfully final 12 months to change Holl’s scheme with another design and style by British architect Michael Hopkins.

In a film about the venture, Holl says his constructing will give a new existence to the neighbouring James Gibbs framework, supplying a “complementary contrast” to its grand stone facade and historic interiors.

Maggie's Centre Barts in London by Steven Holl Architects

“I feel to really respect the authenticity of historic architecture you must make an authentically new piece that does not overwhelm it, that complements it,” he explains in the film.

Relevant story: Reiach and Hall adds walled gardens to Maggie’s Centre Lanarkshire

“To really respect this James Gibbs building would not be to mimic it in some kind of a stone extension. You cannot match the stonework, you can’t match the top quality or the craftsmanship, so that would be an unauthentic sort of action and I feel that the authenticity of the James Gibbs piece deserves an authentic piece as a complementary contrast,” says Holl.

The walls of the creating will curve at the edges, framing the quoins of its 18th-century neighbour.

Maggie's Centre Barts in London by Steven Holl Architects

Coloured light will filter by means of from the facade, which Holl says will produce a wash over the walls like a Mark Rothko painting.

A curving staircase will wind up by means of the interior, following the geometry of the glass facade. It will lead up to a roof backyard dotted with trees, which will be employed for meetings and activities this kind of as yoga or Tai Chi.

“It truly is all in digitally perforated bamboo so there is a variety a warmth, like a basket-like quality of warmth and then there’s stairs, really gentle stairs that deliver you up. And then you see these colour washes come onto the floor and then you get the play of light and these musical notation analogies,” says Holl.

“I believe there’s a kind of meditative top quality, for me it would be a very great area to invest time and to just chill out. I consider that is one of the major ambitions, to make the architecture truly comforting and a spot that you happen to be inspired to devote time.”

Maggie's Centre Barts in London by Steven Holl Architects

The Maggie’s charity was founded by the late Maggie Keswick Jencks and her husband, architecture theorist Charles Jencks, and Maggie’s Centres function as drop-in spaces to offer you help to cancer sufferers, as well as their buddies and relatives.

There are at present 18 centres in the Uk, in buildings created by architects which includes Snøhetta, OMA and Richard Rogers. Thomas Heatherwick has utilized for planning permission to build a centre in Yorkshire.

Steven Holl – whose only other project in the Uk is an extension to Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow College of Art – also strategies to restore the landscaping all around the church of St Bartholomew the Less with ginkgo trees and stone paving.

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