Explore the state-of-the-art Darwin Centre and glimpse the giant cocoon from all angles. Get up close to the concrete, steel and glass of this amazing architectural achievement. Designed by C F Møller Architects of Denmark, it took around 25 months and 280 people to build and was opened in September 2009.
The new Darwin Centre’s giant cocoon structure is built to house 20 millions specimens. The cocoon is encased in a glass box and the reflective properties of the glass prevent the cocoon from being seen fully from the outside. Its scale and shape can be glimpsed at the top when visitors start their tour stepping out of the glass lift on the 7th floor.
From the cocoon's outer walkway you can see the web of panels on its exterior. These panels make it easier to clean and maintain the cocoon surface as well as symbolising the silk-like threads of a real cocoon in nature.
Visitors catch the first glimpses of the cocoon's interior on the outer bridge walkway from the 7th floor lobby as they begin the Cocoon experience.
Meander down the gently sloping walkway on the Cocoon tour past beautiful wall installations that epitomise the Darwin Centre experience. The inner cocoon concrete walls provide a neutral backdrop to these incredible graphic displays.
Get a real sense of the atmosphere of the Cocoon experience and the scale of the building's inner wall projections and winding walkways in this stunning photograph.
Around the centre of the cocoon are state-of-the-art scientific research facilities that will be used by over 200 scientists at a time. These laboratory areas have high-tech, specialised equipment and are designed to be flexible open-plan workspaces with tightly controlled temperatures.
There are various viewing areas, including the preparing specimens workspace shown above, where visitors can ask Museum scientists questions about their work using a 2-way microphone.
The gently curving, sloped walkways inside the cocoon building are designed to be wheelchair-friendly. The space is specially designed to buffer the noise levels, particularly near the science work areas and where exhibits use sound.
Visitors exit the cocoon building on the lower ground floor of the Darwin Centre. As they walk through the light and airy hallway they can revel in the atmosphere and grandeur of this magnificent space. The floor is made from British Portland limestone. The Centre for UK Biodiversity alcoves are shown here on the right. At the end of the hallway is the Attenborough Studio and Climate Change Wall.
The centre's lower ground hallway shows the cocoon building's huge proportions from below. Admire the view shown here from the Attenborough Studio end of the building, facing the reception area and glass lift.
Marvel at the dramatic shadows cast on the cocoon throughout the day, highlighting its curves. In this light and from this angle the building looks futuristic and like something out of a science fiction movie.
Outside the Natural History Museum, the state-of-the-art Darwin Centre is shown here from the Wildlife Garden adjacent to the historic Waterhouse building. it's clear how the new building links the Grade I listed Victorian Waterhouse building and Museum gardens, bringing together the old, the organic and the new.