Maggie’s Centre Newcastle

Maggie's Centre (2013) in Newcastle, UK, by Cullinan Studio. LEGO Model by Steve Mayes.

We can thank LEGO Artist Steve Mayes for creating this intricate LEGO model of Maggie’s Centre Newcastle. His LEGO model warrants a deeper look, but first, what is Maggie’s Centre?

Maggie’s Centre is a nonprofit in the UK which provides support for people affected by cancer. It isn’t a medical facility per-se, but rather a caring environment for people to receive information, advise, and emotional support with their treatment options. They are located in many cities throughout the UK, near National Health Service hospitals where patients can receive medical treatment.

Maggie's Centres in Dundee (2003) by Frank Gehry, and Kirkcaldy (2006) by Zaha Hadid

Maggie’s Centres in Dundee (2003) by Frank Gehry, and Kirkcaldy (2006) by Zaha Hadid. (Photos by Ydam / Public Domain, and Duncan Cumming / CC BY 2.5)

One of the most unusual things about the organization is the architecture of their buildings! Maggie’s Centre believes that design and innovative architecture is critical to their therapy – most of the their facilities have been designed by noteworthy architects from around the world, such as Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Kisho Kurokawa, or Ted Cullinan.

The reason for this intense relationship to architecture is linked to the organization’s origin – Maggie’s Centre was founded by the late Maggie Keswick Jencks, wife of the renowned architectural historian Charles Jencks (who is best known for his books chronicling the rise of Postmodern architecture.)

Exterior of Maggie's Centre Newcastle.

Exterior of Maggie’s Centre Newcastle.

The Maggie’s Centre in Newcastle is located near the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. It was designed by award winning architect Ted Cullinan (of Edward Cullinan Architects.) It is a fresh, modern design with an unusual dish-shaped roof covered in solar panels, and two roof-top gardens.

Exterior of Maggie's Centre Newcastle.

Exterior of Maggie’s Centre Newcastle.

The modern look is softened on the inside using natural materials like clay tiles and wood. The building is roughly symmetrical, with two wings set 90 degrees apart. There is a library in the center of the building, and the wings contain counselling rooms, a kitchen, and living space.

LEGO Maggie’s Centre Newcastle

This LEGO model of Maggie’s Centre Newcastle was built by Steve Mayes, a freelance architectural photographer in the UK.

LEGO Exterior of Maggie's Centre Newcastle, Corner detail

This LEGO model was a commissioned project by Maggie’s Centre and is on display at the centre. Steve was contacted about doing this commission after completing a LEGO model of another area landmark, the BALTIC art gallery, as he explains:

Not long after, I was contacted by Maggie’s Centre about creating a model of their Newcastle site. I was excited and apprehensive, this being my first commission! The building is complex, and less easily replicated in Lego than the very ‘bricky’ BALTIC and house I’d already created.

LEGO Exterior of Maggie's Centre Newcastle, Courtyard detail

It also required a complete re-creation internally as well as externally. Being a perfectionist, I could see this taking over my life! In fact, the work took around 12-15 days, spread out over 3 months or so. It involved a comprehensive photo shoot for research purposes, and gathering of architectural plans to get the scale right.

LEGO Exterior of Maggie's Centre Newcastle, Floorplan

The finished model is 26 inches square, and he is excited that it will be on display at the center. Steve hopes that “the model will be a talking point and an inspiration to young and old who use the centre!”

LEGO Exterior of Maggie's Centre Newcastle, LEGO Details

I love all the details in Steve’s model. I wasn’t surprised when he explained that “I’m certainly a perfectionist, and I think my approach will always be to get it as accurate as possible at whatever scale I’m working at. The detail is where you can get the wow factor.”

It’s not uncommon for LEGO architecture enthusiasts to include a lot of details on the exterior, but Steve took it a step further by including a ton of details in the interior as well.

I would only leave out a detail if it was too small to represent, or if including it was so complicated that it looked ‘forced’, or undermined the structural integrity of the building. I left out non-fixed furniture on the whole. I had to leave out railings on the stairs as they were too fiddly. Externally the sloped grassed areas were covered in plants but I wanted to keep it simple and focus on the architecture, so left that as simple green roof slopes. The railings on the roof gardens are a simplification. Otherwise nothing was left out. Every book case and fitted piece of furniture is included, plus ceilings and major light fittings! The only exception is some very small store rooms and toilets where I left out detailing them internally.

Making of LEGO Maggie’s Centre

Steve’s build process was almost entirely trial and error:

I used printed architectural drawings a lot to get dimensions right, and referred to my research photos a lot. I also spent a lot of time thinking about it. That sounds a daft thing to say, but I’d often lie in bed at night testing out different ideas mentally, seeing what might give the right effect. This is really important to me and often I’d end up with new ideas for a particular section.

Laying down the foundation

Laying down the foundation


Steve explained that the model is large because he designed it to Minifigure scale: “There is a possibility we will add people to the model, maybe as a way of raising money for the centre. I used a 4×6 door as the front door and the rest came from that.”

Roof under construction

Roof under construction

I asked Steve which section of the model was most difficult, and he tells us “By far the hardest was the circular, curving roof! Took lots of thought and a few aborted approaches.” Other challenges included the “curving balcony on the first floor that was tricky. Also getting the right look for the railings around the roof garden.”

About Steve Mayes

Steve Mayes
Steve is as a freelance architectural photographer, so his interest in architecture is longstanding, but he is relatively new to recreating architecture using LEGO.

My interest in recreating architecture with LEGO began in 2013 with a model of my house, designed using the Lego software and then built using bricks sourced mainly from Bricklink. It has since sat on a shelf in my office. Last year the urge took me again, and I created something more known locally – the BALTIC art gallery in Gateshead. Towards the end of the build (6 months or so), I heard about an exhibition being held at Woodhorn Colliery called BrickPlanet2015, featuring Warren Elsmore’s work. This was just up the road from me so I contacted them to see if they would like the local landmark in their exhibition. I also tweeted a picture to the BALTIC themselves, and got a great response. The result was that Woodhorn had it for three months until the end of May, and since then it has been on display in the gallery itself.

Other LEGO Models by Steve Mayes: His home (left) and BALTIC art gallery (right).

Other LEGO Models by Steve Mayes: His home (left) and BALTIC art gallery (right).

Thanks again to Steve for telling us more about his amazing LEGO Architecture creation. Visit http://brickthis.co.uk/ to see his latest creations.

1 Response

  1. September 1, 2015

    […] A fantastic article about my Lego Maggie’s Centre by Tom Alphin, author of forthcoming book The Lego Architect, on his blog – see here: Maggie’s Centre. […]

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