ARCHITECTURE - London's Science Museum has won a £5 million “playhouse” designed by the prominent woman-in-architecture Zaha Hadid. Aimed to be the “world’s foremost gallery of mathematics” 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.
Zaha Hadid Architects have been chosen by the Science Museum to design a pioneering new mathematics gallery, made possible by the largest individual donation ever made to the museum from long-standing supporters of science David and Claudia Harding.
“The 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.” (Z. Hadid)
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 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.