Zaha Hadid Architects transforms mathematics into a purple haven for the London Science Museum

LONDON – With the help of world-class science, technology and engineering, the new mathematics wing of the Science Museum in London strives to highlight the central role of this subject in history and in our daily lives. A selection of historic artefacts and powerful stories are brought together in Mathematics: The Winton Gallery to display the way mathematics has impacted our most fundamental human concerns – from trade to war, and from life to death.

Drawing inspiration from one of the gallery’s key exhibits – the Handley Page 'Gugnunc' Aeroplane – Zaha Hadid Architects realized the space using the equations of airflow used in the aviation industry. The smooth, curvaceous layout and lines of the space illustrate the air that would have flowed around the historic aircraft when in flight. Rounded structures are depicted throughout the gallery in the form of benches, display units and the central pod installation. By flooding the interior with purple light, the designers endeavoured to set the stage for mathematics as a subject of intangible beauty.

Curator Dr David Rooney placed the 1929 aircraft at the centre of the exhibition due to its ground-breaking impact in the aviation industry and research fields. In addition, it encapsulates the gallery’s overarching theme, demonstrating as it does how mathematical practice has helped solve real-world problems; in this instance, it paved the way for the safe passenger flights that we rely on today.

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