Maggie's Dundee cancer therapy centre packs punch of Bilbao into building the size of a large bungalow.
The first completed UK building by American architect Frank Gehry has the sculptural qualities of his Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao but is scarcely larger than a bungalow.

Due to open on 25 September, the £900,000 Maggie's Dundee is a therapy centre for cancer patients built in the landscaped grounds of the town's Ninewells NHS hospital. It is the second Maggie's Centre to be built from a list of 10 commissioned from signature architects including Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers Partnership.

Gehry's single-storey building has a roof of irregularly folding plates that reflects the surrounding hills and a bulging two-storey tower reminiscent of a lighthouse. The concertina roof is constructed from laminated timber and finished in stainless-steel shingles with a soft matt finish intended to reflect the clouds, while the tower has been rendered and painted white.

The Californian architect has said that the Maggie's, though one of his smallest projects, is his "best design yet". Gehry has described the building "as shining like a beacon to cancer sufferers around the country".

All Maggie's Centres are located next to NHS cancer treatment centres and are intended "to help people affected by cancer address the impact of the disease on their lives". The building in Dundee contains little more than a common room, kitchen-diner and library, with a family room upstairs in the tower. Its curving glass facade faces out over the Firth of Tay, and inside pools of daylight create a warm and friendly environment.

Gehry donated his design services for the building as a personal tribute to Maggie Keswick Jencks, who set up the charity before she died of breast cancer in 1995. Speaking after completing the design, he said: "Designing this Maggie's Centre was a labour of love, and I had such a wonderful friendship with Maggie." Gehry and Keswick Jencks had been introduced by her husband, architectural critic Charles Jencks, who now plays a key role in commissioning the buildings.

Maggie's Dundee was built by HBG Construction, with James F Stephen as executive architect, Arup Scotland as structural engineer and DI Burchell & Partners as quantity surveyor.