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Construction starts on giant ‘nerve cell’

Construction has begun on ‘Neuron Pod’ – a 23-metre long free-standing structure which will be used as an informal science learning centre at the Queen Mary University of London.

The pod is a new addition to Centre of the Cell – an award-winning science education centre helping to inspire local school children to pursue careers in the sciences, and engaging the local community with medical research. Neuron Pod will be constructed from 13 large steel sections, each arriving one by one through the Dartford Crossing. The biggest piece, the ‘axon’, is expected to arrive by police escort towards the end of April, and construction will be completed towards the end of the year.

Centre of the Cell’s Director, Professor Fran Balkwill said: “We are all very excited about Neuron Pod – this unique building will allow us to fulfil our potential and offer so much more to our visitors. What’s really important to us is that it increases our ability to interact with the local community. It will be exciting to see how this space evolves and we’re hoping it will become a space where people can let their imaginations run riot.”

Neuron Pod will help increase visitor numbers, and provide a multi-functional space for live science shows, hands-on workshops, experiments, debates, films and exhibitions. The space will also assist in hosting new adult initiatives in the evenings and at weekends, 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.

Neuron Pod is designed by leading architect Professor Will Alsop OBE RA, 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 Centre of the Cell that were inspired by other cells or molecules.

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