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Thursday 22 January 2015

The Spark's pod is looking 'absolutely fantastic'

A Southampton Solent University delegation led by David Corless, Director of Estates and Paul Legon, Head of Projects and Estate Development, has just returned from a trip to the Netherlands where the pod is being manufactured by CIG Architecture. The team were shown a mock-up of four panels of the nose section which, with its compound curves, is quite a complicated structure. The outcome was positive all round with a general agreement that it’s going to look ‘absolutely fantastic’.


CIG Architecture has a 40 year pedigree entrenched in shipbuilding and a world-class reputation for supplying aluminium and metal structures for complex architectural projects, infrastructure projects and art sculptures.

Among the many iconic projects they have delivered are the award-winning media centre at Lord’s cricket ground, which won the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Sterling Prize for Architecture in 1999 as well as two important elements of the overall vision for London 2012: the cable car system and the Canopy ArcelorMittal Orbit, the towering red steel tube building designed by artist Anish Kapoor that was located adjacent to the Athletics Stadium.

For Paul Legon, the opportunity to see how the design has been translated through to the mock-up proved both exciting and reassuring.

“It shows just how cutting-edge this pod is, when you look at the sorts of world-class architecture this company delivers”, he explains.

“So although our design is something really different in terms of its shape, it is the sort of unique project that these guys have the skills and techniques to deal with on a daily basis.”

“What we have seen on this visit is about a third of the nose cone, but it was fantastic and gave us a really good idea of the quality finish we can expect. At the factory we also watched some of the supporting ribs that will form the supporting structure, the pod’s spine, being manufactured from flat panels of steelwork.”

With the mock-up now officially approved, the next stage for the pod is the start of construction proper.

CIG Architecture are manufacturing all the individual panels for the pod, and creating the curves for them much in the same way as they create curved panels for ships. When the pod arrives here at Solent University later this year, it will arrive in kit form, so that it can be constructed in situ.

Paul concludes: “CIG consider themselves to be world leaders in their field and can recreate a vision without compromising the original architect’s design. That is really exciting for everyone here at the University.”