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AXIOM

Artist: Conrad Shawcross
Client: Government Art Collection

Fabricator: The Whitewall Company

This timber sculpture was commissioned for the new Ministry of Justice building in central London.

Sixteen regular tetrahedra were stacked to produce this tetrahelix form. The geometry is deceptively difficult to define mathematically, but the repeat arrangement allowed us to develop a very simple nodal connection. This resulted in only one timber plank pattern and one nodal plate pattern being used in the entire sculpture. Unlike a conventional space frame the tower is constructed from discrete face bonded polyhedra. With no ‘true node’, significant local stress effects occur at the bolted connections and a finite element analysis of the joint was carried out to validate the design.

Throughout the project a 3D CAD model of the tower was used to coordinate design, fabrication and erection. All the timber and steel was cut by CNC routers and laser cutters to digital patterns generated from the 3D model.