Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.

Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.
Image by Cameron Lyall, GNU license Wikimedia

17 June 2011

Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre

I know my last post was about death, but this isn't the case.

The class took a short day trip to Ninewells hospital, and I could finally see the very anticipated Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre. The house is a remarkable example of architectural craftsmanship, and a quick google search will prove my point. Designed by Frank Gehrey, the house resembles Brochs, a traditional Highland dwelling. The front yard faces a labyrinth meant for prayer and reflection, while the backyard faces a wooded area and a spectacular view of the Tay River.

Now, you could have googled the centre and collected the same information. I want to specifically talk about what surprised me.

The centre was extremely close in proximity to the hospital.

The pictures on the internet I found prior to the trip show no traces of the hospital in the landscape, and the map of the hospital grounds (from my perspective) made the center seem miles from the hospital. I had always imagined this centre to be an "escape" from the hospital, but cancer is a look out the window or a quick browsing of the library. The centre is meant as a waiting area for caner patients when they visit the hospital for tests and procedures, it isn't meant as a living arrangement (there are not beds, for example). They talk about cancer here. The centre houses sessions on stress management. This isn't a place to ignore reality, but to face it. But, this isn't a place to be analyzed or examined in, that is what that place outside the window is for. This isn't an alternative reality, but a place to make medical treatment the landscape and their minds and body the focus.

Silence. The grounds are mostly quiet. Even the seagulls (which wake me up each morning at 3AM) seem to respect the patient's space. When the class first entered the house, you could tell we were hesitant to make a sound. We possibly felt--well, I felt--we weren't meant to be there. After awhile, though, you realize the space is not one of death, but is very much alive.

No comments: