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Neuron Pod receives commendation at Structural Steel Design Awards

Centre of the Cell has received a commendation for ‘a high standard of design’ for Neuron Pod, the new state-of-the-art, purpose-built learning and community space.

Neuron Pod

© Jonathan Cole

The team was awarded the commendation at the Structural Steel Design Awards on Tuesday 1 October 2019. Neuron Pod was one of 20 nominated projects, and the team were up against some big players, with Tottenham Hotspur FC’s new stadium taking the project of the year. In attendance at the event were Centre of the Cell Director and Centre Lead Professor Fran Balkwill, Head of Operations Akmol Hussein, and all major contractors who worked on Neuron Pod’s design and construction, including Architect aLL Design, Structural Engineer AKT II and Main Contractor Total Construction.

Neuron Pod is a 10 metre high, and 23 metre long, free-standing outside structure, connected via a bridge to the Centre of the Cell’s current space in the Blizard Building. It was designed by the late architect Will Alsop, creator of the existing Pod and surrounding Blizard Institute building. Neuron Pod is designed with images of a nerve cell in mind, following on from the four pods inside the main building, each inspired by cell science.

Made out of weathering steel, the Pod consists of an external structural skin stiffened by internal steel ribs. These internal ribs run in both directions to provide stiffness and rigidity to the structural skin. Inspired by a Zeppelin shape, both in plan and elevations, it is supported by three legs. The overall shape presents a curved surface, resembling the central part of a neuron, while the dendrites are shaped in the form of numerous spikes scattered along the external surface of the Pod.

Judges’ comment

Professor Fran Balkwill (third from right) accepting the commendation
Professor Fran Balkwill (third from right) accepting the commendation

“Neuron Pod, the latest addition to Queen Mary University of London’s Centre of the Cell Education Centre, surprises in its animal form, is fun and colourful. These qualities meet the brief of inspiring and hopefully attracting future scientists. This contemporary work of craftsmanship in weathering steel succeeds in striking a whimsical note with serious scientific educational intent.”

Read the full commendation.

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