Suspended over a working laboratory within the atrium of the glass Blizard Building, the centre, designed by Alsop Architects, is aimed at children aged nine to 16 and underpinned by the Science National Curriculum.
Alsop was appointed to design the Blizard Building in 2001 and completed the work in 2005 with the shell for the Centre of the Cell and its accompanying glass gangway.
Land Design was tasked with designing an exhibition within the pod on completion of the structure. Funding problems delayed delivery of the pod, which had remained vacant since 2005.
Support has come from the Wellcome Trust, the London Development Agency, The Mercers Company and Queen Mary, University of London.
Tarek Merlin, Alsop’s lead architect on the pod design, says the structure is inspired by cells mutating and dividing, but it is ‘not a literal interpretation of these things’.
Located in east London, the centre will aim to attract children from Tower Hamlets and its neighbouring boroughs.
Shirley Walker, director at Land Design, says the consultancy first removed a dividing floor in the pod and created an interactive ‘nucleus’ within its centre.
Walker says there are two areas of contact, ‘one to develop cellular biology and the other to explain what happens when cells go wrong’.
Tables covered in ‘touch foil’ will allow children to interact with a changing programme as the nucleus opens up.