Mathematics: The Winton Gallery brings together remarkable stories, historical artefacts 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.
Zaha Hadid Architects have worked to bring to life the Mathematics gallery through a design that complements the curatorial ambitions and inspires and engages further generations with the instinctive and physical aspects of mathematics. Mathematics: The Winton Gallery is the first permanent public museum exhibition designed by Zaha Hadid Architects anywhere in the world and reflects the late architect's lifelong love of mathematics.
More than 100 treasures from the Science Museum's world-class science, technology, engineering and mathematics collections have been selected to tell powerful stories about how mathematics has shaped, and been shaped by, some of our most fundamental human concerns - from trade and travel to war, peace, life, death, form and beauty.
Positioned at the heart of the gallery is the Handley Page 'Gugnunc' aeroplane, built in 1929 for a competition to construct safe aircraft. A dramatic installation set within show-stopping surroundings designed by Zaha Hadid and her team at Zaha Hadid Architects.
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.
Inspired by the Handley Page aircraft and its 1929 successful flight, the design of the Gallery 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.
The spatial organisation of the Gallery places a central emphasis on the aircraft as an important product of British aviation, and the transformational capacity of mathematics and science. It takes inspiration from one of the key moments in the flight of the plane and the concepts of aerodynamics embodied within.
The layout of the Gallery allows for the virtual lines of airflow to be manifested physically. The positioning of the 100+ historical objects, and the production of robust arch-like benches using robotic manufacture, all embody the mathematical spirit of the brief. The resulting spatial experience created by these components within the Winton Gallery enables visitors to see some of the many actual and perceivable ways in which mathematics touches our lives.
Photography: Luke Hayes