The built environment is increasingly recognized to influence people and their wellbeing. The related concept of healing environment is adopted by the Maggie’s Centres, which provide psychosocial cancer support in the UK. Outstanding architecture, stated to have the power to uplift people, is an inherent part of the programme.
This article investigates the meaning of healing environment in design practice. In-depth interviews with five designers of different Maggie’s Centres provide insight into their perspective. The study reveals particularities of the design process, such as a close collaboration with the client-expert. Furthermore it identifies common design themes designers associated with healing environment, such as nature, spatial experience, domesticity, and privacy. Finally, a focus group interview with users of the Dundee Maggie’s Centre augments the discussion on how architecture can contribute to wellbeing.