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Mathematics: The Winton Gallery at the Science Museum, London welcomes a million visitors

A million visitors have explored Mathematics: The Winton Gallery at London’s Science Museum since its opening last December.

The gallery brings together remarkable stories and historical artefacts, highlighting the central role of mathematical practice in all our lives

Positioned at the centre of the gallery is the Handley Page ‘Gugnunc’ aeroplane, built in 1929 for a competition to construct safe aircraft. Ground-breaking 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 defines the gallery’s design. Inspired by the Handley Page aircraft, the 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 pod structure.

“This pioneering project has vastly increased visitor numbers to the Mathematics Gallery and is an exemplar project in how architecture can be central to successful curatorial development… the client should be commended for engaging Zaha Hadid Architects as its designers,” explained the RIBA awards jury in May 2017.

The RIBA jury citation continues, “The project is finished to an exacting standard, whilst robust enough to handle the 3.5 million visitors the Science Museum attracts each year. Walls are subtly modelled in gypsum; the floating pod structure is precisely engineered and the precast concrete benches and new floor surfaces are seamless and refined.”

Curator Dr David Rooney said, “Mathematical practice underpins so many aspects of our lives and work. Bringing together these remarkable stories, people and exhibits in this new gallery is inspiring visitors to think about the role of mathematics in a new light.”

The Sunday Times concurred, describing the new gallery as “an environment that fills you with wonder… I found myself uplifted by something pure, floaty and mysterious: the beauty of maths.”

Recipient of an RIBA London Award and nominated by the New London Awards as the city’s best new civic project, Mathematics: The Winton Gallery was recently named a  finalist of the Architects’ Journal (AJ) Architecture Awards which showcase the very best built projects in the UK.

 Photo by Matt Danby

 

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Mathematics: The Winton Gallery – Science Museum

AJ Architecture Awards

RIBA London

New London Architecture