A contemporary Hortus Conclusus
Rankinfraser landscape architecture’s landscape design is central to the concept and success of Maggie’s Lanarkshire at Monklands General Hospital, Coatbridge. The building and enclosed gardens are conceived as a single linked composition sitting within the perimeter Lime tree policy woodland of Airdrie House; a ‘hortus conclusus’ enclosed by a perforated brick boundary wall extending from the building itself. The landscape design retains the existing policy trees, reinforces this feature with new tree planting and suggests a dialogue between an entrance courtyard to the west, a shady woodland garden to the east, the building and the trees.
The relationship of building and gardens represents a significant moment in the design evolution of Maggie’s centre, embodying a research led realisation that delightful, domestic scale gardens associated with these buildings can deliver tangible health benefits and should be included in their delivery. This concept is not new, nor should it come as a surprise; from the Alhambra to Querini Stampalia the garden is a signifier of civilisation, an enricher of day to day activities, the bringer of inside/outside space, a place to enjoy, to hear birdsong, to taste fresh air.
Dappled light and shade from the retained trees and the sound and movement of water are constants in both gardens. In the arrival court, the existing lime trees, a bench and a linear rill rich with the sound of running water combine to create a sense of dignity, tranquillity and calm and the opportunity for reflection. The trees and water work in conjunction with the compositional and spatial design of the gardens that are derived from the building grid and the near 2.5 metre fall across the eastern garden. This change in level is celebrated and technically resolved with a precast concrete ‘noble threshold’ of terrace, steps and generous seating steps. These steps lead to an evocatively and richly planted woodland garden which is terminated by a still reflective pool. Small scale richly coloured Dutch clay pavers contrast with the precast concrete and boundary wall treatments. In common with the building, the garden is conceived with private spaces for confidential moments.
Project Name: Garden for Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre, Lanarkshire
Location: Coatbridge, Scotland
Landscape Architect: rankinfraser landscape architecture, Edinburgh
Architects: Reiach and Hall Architects, Edinburgh
Lighting Designer: Speirs + Major, Edinburgh
Design Date: 2011
Completion Date: 2014
Photographer: rankinfraser, David Grandorge.