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London Science Museum opens Hadid-designed mathematics exhibit

News | December 19, 2016 | By:

Photography by Luke Hayes
Photography by Luke Hayes

In December 2016, the London Science Museum opened an inspirational new mathematics gallery, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Mathematics: The Winton Gallery brings together remarkable stories, historical artifacts and design to highlight the central role of mathematical practice in all our lives and explores how mathematicians, their tools and ideas have helped build the modern world over the past four centuries.

Positioned at the center of the gallery is the Handley Page “Gugnunc” aeroplane, built in 1929 for a competition to construct safe aircraft. Groundbreaking aerodynamic research influenced the wing design of this experimental aeroplane, helping to shift public opinion about the safety of flying and to secure the future of the aviation industry. This aeroplane encapsulates the gallery’s overarching theme, illustrating how mathematical practice has helped solve real-world problems and in this instance paved the way for the safe passenger flights that we rely on today.

Mathematics also dzha_mathematics_the-winton-gallery_ph_lukehayes_11efines Zaha Hadid Architects’ enlightening design for the gallery. Inspired by the Handley Page aircraft, the gallery design is driven by equations of airflow used in the aviation industry. The layout and lines of the gallery represent the air that would have flowed around this historic aircraft in flight, from the positioning of the showcases and benches to the three-dimensional curved surfaces of the central fabric pod structure.

Mathematics: The Winton Gallery is the first permanent public museum exhibition designed by Zaha Hadid Architects anywhere in the world. The gallery is also the first of Zaha Hadid Architects’ projects to open in the U.K. since Dame Zaha Hadid’s sudden death in March 2016.

Mathematics and geometry have a strong connection with architecture and Dame Zaha Hadid continued to examine these relationships throughout each of her projects during her life, with mathematics always central to her work. As Dame Zaha said, “When I was growing up in Iraq, math was an everyday part of life. We would play with math problems just as we would play with pens and paper to draw – math was like sketching.”

zha_mathematics_the-winton-gallery_ph_lukehayes_23Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, said, “We were hugely impressed by the ideas and vision of the late Dame Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher when they first presented their design for the new mathematics gallery over two years ago. It was a terrible shock for us all when Dame Zaha died suddenly in March this year, but I am sure that this gallery will be a lasting tribute to this world-changing architect and provide inspiration for our millions of visitors for many years to come.”

Visitor information
Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London
Open daily, 10-6pm

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