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Mathematics Gallery

Zaha Hadid Architects

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London Science Museum


  • Structural Engineer: Arup
  • Mechanical Engineer: Arup
  • Electrical Engineer: Arup
  • Gardiner & Theobald
  • Turner & Townsend
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Project Description


The Mathematics Gallery design explores the many influences of mathematics in our everyday lives; transforming seemingly abstract mathematical concepts into an exciting interactive experience for visitors of all ages.
The Science Museum’s collection tells the stories of key scientific and technological developments and the people behind them. The new Mathematics Gallery will engage its visitors by connecting the gallery’s objects to their mathematical ideas and demonstrating how they work - helping visitors to understand how each object was designed and built, and also outlining its social and cultural significance. The gallery’s design will encourage visitors to be inquisitive and discover links between the historic objects and contemporary experience.
The varied collection exhibited in the gallery will be divided into three zones: mathematicians; mathematical applications in our everyday lives; mathematical tools and ideas. However, the fluid organization of the gallery’s design will invite curators and visitors to establish connections that transcend every zone, mirroring the integrated nature of mathematics applications in all aspects of life.
The largest object to be exhibited within the gallery will be a 1929 biplane suspended from the ceiling. This experimental British aircraft made by Handley Page competed in the finals of the 1927 competition to design an aircraft that could take off and land slowly and steeply without stalling. The mathematics of aerodynamics and material stress embodied within the biplane’s design involved the modelling of complex interactive equations. This research profoundly advanced aviation technology and understanding at the very beginnings of civilian air travel.
The gallery’s design will bring this remarkable story of the Handley Page biplane to life by considering the entire gallery as a wind tunnel for the aircraft which will hang in the centre of the space. Three-dimensional curved surfaces representing the aircraft’s aerodynamic turbulence field describe the formal and organizational concepts that define all other aspects of the gallery. These curvilinear surfaces convey complex mathematical ideas such vector-fields with their capacity to describe constantly-varying quantities. The gallery’s many different display cases and three central exhibition pods will embody these same formal concepts by applying a family of mathematics called minimal surfaces.
The new Mathematics Gallery will engage its visitors with an immersive experience of the mathematical and convey many of the fascinating stories of mathematicians that have shaped our history and continue to define our future.

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