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aLL Design

aLL Design

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aLL Design - Neuron Pod

aLL Design

Photographs by

Jonathan Coleman







Will Alsop's RIBA award-winning Blizard Building is the result of detailed client consultation workshops to produce the first biomedical research laboratory to house an education centre on Queen Mary University's Whitechapel campus of medicine and dentistry. Huge coloured pods within the Blizard Building function as meeting rooms and education facilities. 'Centre of the Cell' is one such pod; a space which, through films, demonstrations and workshops, strives to improve young people's knowledge and understanding of science and the human body. The experience is deliberately theatrical and memorable with the aim of inspiring future generations of scientists and health professionals.

Since its opening in 2009, over 100,000 people have participated in the Centre's activities and there have been over one million visitors to the interactive Visitor numbers are increasing year on year, proving the value of public engagement and offering a model for innovative initiatives within biomedical research institutes.

This success has led to a new commission from the University for aLL to design an extension to the building - a second Pod - Neuron Pod that will potentially double visitor numbers, increase their time on site and provide an environment dedicated to education. Neuron's visitor programme will include science shows, youth member activities, workshops, new adult initiatives and weekend activities.

Neuron is a steel structure pierced by thousands of fibre-optic 'hairs' which light up at night. The Pod is positioned in Blizard Mews and offers a sheltered courtyard area beneath. Internally the space is flexible to optimise the number and type of events. The project was granted planning permission in 2012 and detailed design examined prefabrication and installation techniques to ensure minimal impact on the functioning building. The Pod arrived piece by piece during May 2018 and was assembled and welded on-site. A study on Neuron was included in the NLA's - New London Architecture's - Knowledge Capital: Making spaces for education and health: