Renowned designers Draisci Studio recently designed a sculptural feature that encompasses the role of Science and Mathematics in everyday life for the Science and Technology Building at the long-established Oundle School in Northamptonshire (UK). Perspex® Distribution Limited (PDL) approved fabricator, Zone Creations was selected to construct and install the imposing sculpture and had to address a number of complex challenges due to the geometry and sheer scale of the feature.

Using what they had learnt about Oundle School’s ethos and values, Draisci Studio created STEM, using the concept that scientific ideas come from direct observation and experience of the world around us.

The installation is made of 80 modules in the shape of a truncated octahedron – a geometric form that tessellates allowing one module to fit with other equal modules. With the feature in situ, the foyer is animated by the vibrant reflections of light flooding from the large oculus in the ceiling through the pieces of colored Perspex® acrylic.

The name STEM (the well-known acronym for the group of subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is also a reference to the space in which it is situated at Oundle School.

STEM is a tribute to the way mathematical patterns manifest themselves in plants, organic growth and natural development. It brings together complex geometry and a juxtaposition of materials with the sculpture base, using a mixture of hard and heavy concrete, soft and tactile cork, and leading to transparent colored Perspex® acrylic, reaching up to the natural light emanating from the ceiling. Francesco Draisci explained: “We wanted to display the beauty and contradictions of different materials coming together to generate a new piece of reality.’’

The fabrication process was shared with the students, allowing them to see how a concept is turned into a real object through design and prototyping.

The sculpture is interactive for students. The base provides space to sit and meet, while transparent Perspex® acrylic in four colors allows views, tonal layers and distortions to manifest as visitors climb the spiral staircase surrounding it.

One student said: “Your eyes are drawn up to the acrylic at the top and up to the oculus, the skylight. As you get closer to the sculpture the elements are very tactile and I like how we are able to interact and sit on them.”

Caroline Dent, Art Teacher at Oundle, added: “The sculpture seems a living and involving form, which tells a story through its play and interaction with light, space and human presence. Placing an abstract sculptural form within the hub of the school community stimulates intellectual curiosity, raises debate and offers new perspectives to the place.”

Draisci Studio is a London based practice that designs and develops unique projects. Its work has been exhibited at the V&A, the Design Museum, London, and the Venice Architectural Biennale.

Read more case studies using Perspex® acrylic.