2009 Axiom
Axiom was commissioned by the Government Art Collection for the for the newly-refurbished Ministry of Justice building in central London.

The 14m high timber sculpture is the first in a series of large scale teraheadral stacking structures that we have designed with the Artist Conrad Shawcross. The others being Paradigm and Exploded Paradigm.

The geometry is a Boerdijk–Coxeter helix; a linear stacking of regular tetrahedra, arranged with 4 vertices touching so that the edges of individual tetrahedron form three intertwined helices. The helix is not rotationally repetitive - even in an infinite string of stacked tetrahedra, no two tetrahedra will have the same orientation. Despite this mathematical complexity the repeating arrangement allowed a very simple nodal connection to be designed. This resulted in only one timber plank pattern and one nodal plate pattern being used to form the stack.

This was also the first time we used a single 3D information model to coordinate the design, fabrication and erection and all the timber and steel was cut to digital patterns by CNC routers and laser cutters. The tower itself is rigid and the structural design was relatively straightforward. However, unlike conventional space frames, it is constructed from a series of 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 required to investigate these effects and confirm that individual elements will not become over stressed.

500 linear metres of 30mm thick CSA certified Canadian douglas fir were used in the tower (no source was found that could offer sufficiently close grained and consistent home grown stock). Douglas fir was chosen primarily for it’s colour and figure although the mechanical properties and price were also significant. Stability in the timber was considered critical the moisture content of the timber was closely specified to prevent differential changes in plank width or length from altering the verticality of the tower once built.
ArtistConrad Shawcross
Art InstallationThe White Wall Company
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