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Zaha Hadid Team Turns Airflow into Architecture

A new mathematics gallery at London's Science Museum is the first permanent exhibition space designed by the late Zaha Hadid.

by Kevin Holmes
Dec 7 2016, 2:25pm


Mathematics The Winton Gallery, Science Museum, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Photo credit: Nick Guttridge

A new permanent mathematics gallery designed by Zaha Hadid Architects has opened at London's Science Museum. It features over 100 treasured objects from the museum's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics collections. Not only is it the first UK project from Zaha Hadid Architects to open since Dame Zaha Hadid’s untimely death, it's also the first permanent public exhibition space designed by the architect.

The space is not only home to mathematical curiosities like a 17th century Islamic astrolabe—a way to map the night sky—and an early example of the Enigma machine, but mathematics has also defined its design. Zaha Hadid Architects took inspiration from the historic 1929 Handley Page aircraft—which is at the centre of the gallery—for the space and incorporated airflow equations used in aviation into the aerodynamically-influenced structure.  


Mathematics The Winton Gallery (detail), Science Museum, Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Photo credit: Nick Guttridge

Lit up in purple the curved layout and lines are a representation of the flow fields that circulated around the Handley Page aircraft when it was in flight. This idea runs through everything in the space, to the way the showcases are positioned to the benches people can sit on, and the arched surfaces of the pod structure at the center.


Mathematics The Winton Gallery, Science Museum, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Photo credit: Nick Guttridge

"Using the principles of a mathematical approach known as computational fluid dynamics, which acts as an organizational guide, the layout of the Gallery allows for the virtual lines of air flow to be manifested physically," says Zaha Hadid Architects. "The harmonious positioning of the more than 100 historical objects, and the successful 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."


Mathematics The Winton Gallery, Science Museum, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Photo credit: Nick Guttridge

The late Dame Hadid studied mathematics at university which sparked an interest in geometry and in turn architecture. Mathematics went on to inform her design work and architecture practices.

"When I was growing up in Iraq, math was an everyday part of life," Hadid says in a 2015 interview with CNN. "My parents instilled in me a passion for discovery, and they never made a distinction between science and creativity. We would play with math problems just as we would play with pens and paper to draw—math was like sketching."


Mathematics The Winton Gallery, Science Museum, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Photo credit: Nick Guttridge


Mathematics The Winton Gallery (detail), Science Museum, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Photo credit: Nick Guttridge


Mathematics The Winton Gallery, Science Museum, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Photo credit: Nick Guttridge

Mathematics: The Winton Gallery designed by Zaha Hadid Architects opens daily at the Science Museum, London from 8 December 2016. To learn more about the Science Museum visit their website here. To learn more about Zaha Hadid Architects visit their website here.

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