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Mathematics - The Winton Gallery, London

Use of lighting to bring a complex mathematical concept to life

Arup lighting team developed the lighting for the Science Museum’s Mathematics: The Winton Gallery, in collaboration with Zaha Hadid Architects.

The gallery is part of the Science Museum’s Masterplan Strategy, which aims to create dramatic spaces, learning zones, new public areas and sophisticated exhibitions, all founded in the best design and technology. Using our creative lighting techniques and our technical expertise, we were able to bring mathematical history to life.

The architectural and lighting concept for the gallery connects complex mathematical concepts to every day experience with a striking visual clarity. Fluid dynamic lighting was integrated with static lighting to showcase the mathematical significance of a key feature of the gallery; the Handley Page Gugnunc aircraft from 1929.

The lighting is arranged to show how air moves around the aircraft, and displays both the vector field, made by the wings of the aircraft, and the sky, represented by the boundaries and walls of the gallery.

A wind tunnel of light

We applied strategic thinking and experience to the project, and focused on creating a memorable space through the use of light, so that visitors have a breath-taking and unforgettable experience. The result is stunning; the lighting depicts a dramatically rendered wind tunnel. Lighting paints the airflow through the space, from the floor, walls and ceiling, to the central turbulence pod. Linear elements of lighting represent the laminar flow and pods represent turbulence.

The gallery will be a key attraction for the Science Museum. Not only does the design show the aerodynamic field generated by the aircraft creatively, it brings to life one of the most significant and complex elements of aeronautic research in a way that visitors have never before seen.

Technical excellence

Arup approached the project with the aim of achieving the highest possible quality, whilst sensitively balancing strict conservation requirements, cost and the use of the latest lighting technology. Our LightLab allowed us to evaluate lighting equipment and details to ensure we could specify and detail with confidence, as well as experiment with various approaches to object lighting.

Our philosophy of balancing technical excellence with a creative and innovative attitude is demonstrated in the stunning lighting design that has been achieved. As well as lighting design, Arup also provided Structural and Building services for this project.