200 years on from Charles Darwin's birth and 150 years since the publication of his On the Origin of Species, the latest extension to the Natural History Museum in London – the new Darwin Centre – opened to the public in September 2009.

The Darwin Centre provides a storage space for the Museum's collections, laboratories for its scientists, and new galleries to educate the public about biodiversity and the nature of scientific enquiry. Built in two phases, the first of which (designed by HOK) opened in 2002, this programme focuses on the second phase of the building, looking at its architecture, engineering and construction, especially its eight-storey sprayed concrete Cocoon. The Darwin Centre's architecture is considered alongside the original museum (the Waterhouse Building) and discussed in its own terms with lead architect Anna Maria Indrio of C. F. Møller Architects. The building's structural engineering is addressed by Ed Newman-Sanders of Arup, taking a detailed look at the construction of the Cocoon. Temperature and humidity regulation is tackled with help from Andy Ford of services engineers Fulcrum Consulting. The new facilities are also considered from the user's viewpoint, with help from museum botanist Mark Spencer.

Anna Maria Indrio (C. F. Møller Architects), Andy Ford (Fulcrum Consulting), Ed Newman-Sanders (Arup), Mark Spencer (Natural History Museum).

Richard Owen statue title image:
© Natural History Museum

Cross-section of Darwin Centre at beginning of clip:
© C. F. Møller Architects