The ultimate plus-point project – The Maths Institute, Oxford

22nd August 2019

Whether you’re flying the nest as a fresher or returning to university for your final year, September is a big month in the education calendar, and nothing adds up better than for us to focus amongst the multiple of universities that we have supplied materials to, and help to transform, than the Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute facility.

The Andrew Wiles Building, was officially opened in October 2013. The dedicated building is at the centre of the department’s and its students’ academic life. The building’s design and the stunning Penrose paving, by Rafael Viñoly Architects, is architecturally sympathetic to the Oxford skyline.  

Named after one of Oxford’s most celebrated mathematicians, Professor Sir Andrew Wiles, the building reflects further mathematical influences in its architecture and as you enter you are confronted with a concourse entrance pattern of beauty, intrigue and complexity. 

Mathematical genius 

Designed by Sir Roger Penrose, Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics, and expanding on his discovery of almost thirty years ago, the Penrose paving concept is constructed from just two different diamond-shaped granite tiles, each adorned identically with stainless steel circular arcs.

There are various ways of covering the infinite planes with them, matching the arcs but every such pattern is non-repetitive built from two shapes that tesselate in a never-repeating pattern.

Watch this clip as Sir Roger explains here the mathematics of the Penrose Paving.

Stone, Steel and Clay

Installed by Vetter UK, a subsidiary of Laing O’ Rourke, Hardscape supplied Royal White and Kobra grey Artscape granite paving with polished 30mm stainless steel inserts.

Other paved areas, designed by Townshend landscape architects; European Amarelo Reale and Roriz granite setts, kerbs and edgings with West Pennine sandstone paving, cladding and copings and Neland Siena and Nero WF clay pavers to this prestigious and ingenious scheme – one of several that Hardscape had the honour of working on within the Oxford University grounds. 

Click here for a time-lapse film of the laying of Sir Roger’s paving concept. The non-repeating pattern was discovered by Roger in 1974. The version you see here, with the circular adornments, was designed by him in 2012.

Client: Oxford University; Architects: Rafael Viñoly (Building and Penrose paving); Townshend landscape architects (remaining paved areas); Contractor: Installed by Vetter UK, a subsidiary of Laing O’ Rourke.