‘Neuron Pod’ is a striking 23-metre long and 10-metre high free-standing structure that has opened its doors as an informal science learning centre at Queen Mary University of London’s Whitechapel campus.
The launch of the giant ‘nerve cell’ science education centre, in London’s East End, was marked by a visit from children from Christ Church Primary School, Brick Lane, who took part in an interactive science education activity about the biology of ‘Snot, Sick and Scabs’, run by Centre of the Cell, Queen Mary’s informal science learning centre.
Neuron Pod is designed by the late Professor Will Alsop OBE RA at aLL Design, creator of the existing Pod and surrounding Blizard Institute, which has won numerous design awards. Its design is inspired by images of a nerve cell, following on from the four pods inside the building that were inspired by other cells or molecules. To bring the pod to life and to give it an extra spark the metal structure vibrates with the light of fibre optic ‘hairs’.
“The 500 fibre optic hairs represent ‘dendrites’, protoplasmic extensions of a neuron cell that receive electrical information from other neural cells. Neuron Pod was designed so that these ‘dendrites’ would extend beyond the Blizard Mews, announcing Neurons Pods presence to the neighbouring streets and acting as signage for the exciting work going on in Centre of the Cell.” Said Ned Drury, Senior Designer of the Neuropod.
Construction of Neuron Pod began in April 2018, which involved welding together 13 large steel sections, each arriving one by one through the Dartford Crossing, with some requiring police escort due to their size.
Marcos Rosello from aLL Design said: “Neuron Pod shows how you can use creativity and art as architecture by creating an object and space that both delights while being extremely functional. Developing the design alongside the Centre of the Cell team has been a joy.”
Speaking at the start of Neuron Pod’s construction in April 2018, the late Professor Will Alsop OBE RA, said: “I feel proud to have the opportunity to contribute to this amazing institution. Their work in encouraging young people is extraordinary. I think the new pod will help give young people an even more positive experience.”
Neuron Pod will also assist in hosting new adult initiatives in the evenings, provide activities for Key Stage 4 (age 14 – 16) and sixth form school visits, improve disabled access, and increase the Centre’s ability to develop programmes for young people with learning difficulties. There are also plans to lease the space for community and corporate events.
Funders of the £2m project include Wellcome, Queen Mary University of London, Barts Charity, Wolfson Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Hobson Charity and Gosling Foundation. Design and construction also involved Total Construction, Littlehampton Welding and AKT II.