STEM is a sculptural feature created for the Science and Technology Building in the long-established Oundle School, Northamptonshire.
Oundle School commissioned Draisci Studio, to imagine a piece that could emphasize the role of Science and Mathematics in everyday life. As most of the pioneering discoveries come to life through empirical evidence, the interactive artwork encourages pupils to discover new ways of observing the world and experimenting with it.
As Caroline Dent, Art Teacher at Oundle, says: ‘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.’
The installation is made of eighty modules in the shape of a Truncated Octahedron - a geometric form that tessellates allowing one module to fit with other equal modules. The base consists of concrete pieces that create an essential link between the sculpture, the floor and the stairs. This part also gives visible stability to the construction. The cork modules surrounding the lower part of the art piece make a perfect contrast to the cold concrete base. The units built from this warm and soft material can also be used as informal seating for the pupils and guests of the school.
However, the most captivating element of the installation is the section designed from acrylic forms in four different colours. The see-through panels allow the view of the staircase from different angles while creating a gentle distortion due to the overlapping of colours.
The dynamic relationship of the various materials and pigments generates a sculptural centrepiece for the SciTec Building by vHH. The foyer becomes animated by the vibrant reflections of light flooding from the large oculus in the ceiling. As the installation appears different from every angle, pupils and guests can discover new perspectives while walking up and down the stairs.
The name STEM is a reference to the space in which it is created and represents the first letters of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It is also a tribute to the way mathematical patterns manifest themselves in plants, organic growth and natural development.
There is a strong link between the way the artwork consists of smaller parts making a whole and the way individuals form a learning community with a recognizable identity.