Monday, 26 December 2016

Zaha Hadid's Mathematical Legacy

Pic of entrance to gallery with purple light and plane overhead

The stunning design hits you as soon as you walk through the door of the  new Winton Gallery. Unfortunately, its designer was one of the many famous and talented people who passed away in 2016. Zaha Hadid's architectural legacy lives on around the world. In December, the architect's completed design for the new Mathematics gallery opened.

Side-view of Zaha Hadid's design with exhibits in glass cases

Design inspiration
The Imperial War Museum, IWM Duxford and RAF Hendon also suspend airplanes overhead. This was dramatically different. Zaha Hadid was a mathematician before she was an architect. Her knowledge of geometry informed her creativity. The video below shows how she used wind patterns around the plane to create her stunning design.

Modern approach
It's also interesting that the museum approached a woman for its Mathematics gallery. The Science Museum is seeking to inspire a new generation of STEM enthusiasts. The new gallery uses a more modern approach to displaying artefacts. They are more spaced out rather than piled up. I still wondered if a new generation would require more interactivity. My attention was captured by the sheer size of many of the exhibits. Modern technology has downsized so many of them and increased capacity at the same time.

There was a huge model used at the London School of Economics to show students how the Economy works. The Thames Flood Barrier Model also caught my attention. 

Model of London's Thames Flood Barrier in the Winton Gallery

Maths was never my favourite subject at school, although I did love algebra. Something to do with it looking like a foreign language to be decoded perhaps? 

Cash register
One exhibit cast my mind straight back to my early school days. There was a huge, old-fashioned cash register. I had a smaller toy version as a child. I remember telling my teacher that I wanted to be a shopkeeper. She told me that I was too 'clever' for that. I didn't like that 'clever' word if it stopped me from doing what I wanted to do. I just liked counting money at that age. 

I am sure the teacher meant to encourage me to see the greater career opportunities that were opening up for women. Retailing had become a recognised graduate career by the time of my first degree. Maybe my wish should have been interpreted as the sign of an early entrepreneur?

Old cash register with Access credit card sticker

Contactless payments

Today is Boxing Day in the UK. Cash registers are ringing up post-Christmas sale purchases across the country. I smiled when I recognised the old green Access credit symbol. I have just taken delivery of my second contactless card. I love the simplicity. I've stopped carrying cash as much as in the past. My museum experience brought home how much shopping and attitudes have changed in my lifetime.

I wonder ...
... how a contactless card will look in a museum of the future? 
... if will we see more women inspired to take up mathematics as old attitudes change?
... what new unpredicted careers will appear as today's schoolchildren grow up?

Karen Andrews is a freelance French to English translator, transcreator, content writer and editor. She has a strong background in global marketing.

Email Karen for further information via in French, German or English.

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