Living Space

Living Space is a film about the relationship between architecture and illness. It follows the construction of a new cancer care centre designed by the architect Frank Gehry and acts as a record of the process behind, and the achievement of, creating space especially for people affected by cancer.

Funded by Wingate Trust, East England Arts, Scottish Arts Council Lottery Fund with the support of Dundee Contemporary Arts.

Director: Sarah Wood. UK, 2003, 17 mins, video

Distributed by CFMDC

Project background
In 1988 Maggie Jencks, writer, designer, visionary landscape gardener, was diagnosed as having breast cancer. After treatment and a five year remission the cancer returned in May 1993. When it did, faced with the prospect of life after diagnosis, she came up with the idea of establishing Cancer Caring Centres, a rare premise in the UK. By 1995 the Edinburgh-based architect Richard Murphy had been asked to produce a plan for converting a stable block into a centre at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital and Maggie had written a blueprint for the centre, and with Laura Lee, her oncology nurse, drafted its constitution. The centre opened in 1996, followed by a centre in Glasgow in 2000.

The Maggie Jencks Trust, which Maggie set up before her death, then went on to commission a new building at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. In line with her idea that the centre should be a ‘patient centred building, with a different atmosphere from the hospital, that gives people affected by cancer freedom from the stereotyping which inevitably follows organised cancer treatment’, the Trust chose Maggie’s good friend Frank Gehry to design the site. The commission’s central, inspiring and original premise that each centre should be idiosyncratic, individual and sympathetic to its particular location was the challenge for Gehry, as he designed his first commission since the completion of the Guggenheim Gallery in Bilbao and his first ever building in the UK. The centre was completed at the end of 2003. For more information about Maggie's Centres, click here