Introducing Benedetta Tagliabue, architect of Kálida Barcelona

Wednesday 9 October

Introducing Benedetta Tagliabue, architect of Kálida Barcelona

Over a decade ago, a group of women approached Barcelona-based architect Benedetta Tagliabue with the idea of establishing a Maggie's centre in the Catalan city.

Benedetta, who lost her husband, mentor and business partner Enric Miralles to a brain tumour in 2000, was intrigued. 

Among the group was Rosy Williams, a Scottish former geologist, who was aware that Benedetta and Enric’s firm, Miralles Tagliabue EMBT, had designed the Scottish Parliament building. Rosy had had cancer herself and was supported at Maggie’s Edinburgh when she returned to Scotland temporarily after being diagnosed in 2002.  

“I told them they could count on me for the project and I would help in any way I could,” says Benedetta. “At that stage, they didn’t have a location. There was a long way to go – but from then on, I was in the team.” 

Eventually, backing was found from the Kálida Foundation, a philanthropic organisation that agreed to fund a centre beside the iconic Hospital de Sant Pau. 

Having opened in May 2019, Kálida Barcelona is part of the Maggie’s network, the first centre in mainland Europe and the third of our overseas centres after Maggie’s Hong Kong and Maggie’s Tokyo. 

Located in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kálida Barcelona is distinguished by its red-brick facades, which have honeycomb-shaped ceramic tiles inspired by the decorative brickwork of the historic hospital building. 

For the interior, designer and architect Patricia Urquiola has taken on the main themes of a Maggie’s centre – the relaxed, homely feel and large kitchen table – and given them a suitably Barcelonese feel. 

“Having gone there to look, it’s very impressive,” says Benedetta. “Just as in a Maggie’s centre, the kitchen is at the heart of the space. Above the table there’s a double height, but it really feels like one room. The two levels are open so it’s more like one space, one big room. At the same time, it has many corners and spaces where people can find some privacy. That feeling of being in an open, social space, but still having privacy is very important in every Maggie’s centre – and Kálida Barcelona is no exception.” 


Article first published in Making Maggie's magazine, Issue 5 October 2019