City walk

Mathematics-motivated school outings

Key stage: 3
Subjects: mathematics, architecture


‘Despite the building having that overall curved glass shape, there is, surprisingly, only one piece of curved glass used throughout the structure. It can be found on the lens-shaped cap at the very top of the structure.' (Pupil)

What kind of mathematics can motivate a mathematics school outing? In this example the teachers organized a trip inspired by the work of the architects from Foster + Partners. The focus is on the processes and shapes involved in the London buildings ‘The Gherkin' and Greater London Authority (London City Hall, aka GLA). The visit ended with an interview with a team of designers and architects from the renowned firm.

The visit was preceded by a series of preparatory school activities. The pupils read an article on the mathematics of the buildings, undertook research on the theme and prepared a set of questions to interview the professionals. The teachers also developed a set of questions about the buildings to spark of the pupils' interest in the topic.

The trip provided a natural context to integrate mathematics, engineering and technology in using creativity and knowledge to address energy efficiency issues, touching on topics such as surface area and volume of 3d shapes, 2d shapes in the world around us.

Curricular links:

  • Creativity in integrating STEM knowledge in environmental issues
  • Surface area and volume of 3d shapes
  • 2d shapes
  • 3d shapes
  • Estimation
  • Computer modeling

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