How we build our units

We believe young people shouldn’t have to stop being young people, just because they have cancer. So we asked young people to help us design our 28 units so we could build an environment that feels as much like home as possible.

Each of our 28 units in NHS hospitals across the UK is unique, but there are a few things they almost all have in common:  

  • Young people were part of the design process from the start, and their opinions and experiences were central to the decisions made. 
  • Taking care of the emotional side of cancer treatment is just as important the physical therapy, so we choose colours based on colour theory, a calm layout,  and cosy furniture to make our units feel distinct from the hospital’s clinical spaces.  
  • Going into hospital takes away the normality of life, but the units counteract this with communal spaces where young people can socialise and hang out like they would at home, with friends and family or other young people going through something similar. You might walk into a unit and find a game of pool going on, someone gaming with friends, or a photography workshop going on. 

Young people are critical to the unit design process

Mark Maffey
Mark Maffey Architect/Designer/Project Manager
Mark Maffey

Mark Maffey is an architect, designer and project manager who worked with Teenage Cancer Trust on the design and build of Teenage Cancer Trust’s Southampton Unit. He spoke to us about how fundamental young people’s input is to developing specialist treatment centres for their age group. Read his full interview below.  

Impact of the Built Environment report 


More about our units