Neuron Pod

Published 23rd August 2022

Queen Mary University of London’s striking Neuron Pod extends the existing ‘Centre of the Cell’ at Queen Mary University of London’s Blizard Institute, located in East London’s Whitechapel. The £1.8m pod, designed to resemble a nerve cell, provides 86 sqm of multifunctional space to be used for seminars, exhibitions, performances and interactive workshops aiming to inspire a younger generation to pursue a career in science and creating a global centre of excellence in public engagement.

The external structure of the pod was prefabricated from weathering steel and assembled on site to speed up construction. Based on the existing three-dimensional forms of cells and molecules already present within the Blizard Institute, the pod is punctuated with external acrylic ‘hairs’ fitted with fibre optic LEDs to illuminate the pod at night, completing its ‘neuron cell’ image.

Our team were carried out building services engineering work on this unique development. Our design incorporated the thermal envelope which had at least 150mm spray foam insulation applied to minimise energy consumption required for the heating and cooling of such a complex structure. This foam insulation became part of the finished coating that was applied to the pod’s walls.

Heating, cooling and ventilation is provided by an air source heat pump and heat recovery ventilation unit, providing free cooling and renewable energy heating to the pod. The space is ventilated via high induction floor grilles which maximised the available floor area, keeping the walls and ceiling clear so that the form of the building can be appreciated.

The interior includes detachable linear LED lights to allow for maximum flexibility to suit the multi-function room and minimise energy use, in addition to being in line with the project budget.

The HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems can be accessed from the ‘underbelly’ of the structure to minimise disruption. The system is designed with a duty-duty ventilation which provides extra resilience and allows continuous operation during maintenance. This technology also links back to the main University Building Management System via Trend Control BEMS (Building Energy Management). Nominated for multiple awards, the pod’s high performance thermal envelope and efficient HVAC systems, enabled an Energy Performance Certificate Rating of “A”.

Client: Queen Mary University of London
Architect: aLL Design