Standard content

Paradigm sculpture

Commissioned by the Francis Crick Institute and funded by the Wellcome Trust, Paradigm, by artist Conrad Shawcross, is one of the tallest public sculptures in central London.  At an imposing 14 metres, it comprises of a twisting stack of tetrahedra that grow in size. The work is a feat of engineering and continues the artist's long-standing collaboration with structural engineering practice Structure Workshop.

Thomas Kuhn's theory of the 'paradigm shift' provided a starting point for Shawcross' work for the Crick. Kuhn, an American philosopher of science, believed that scientific advancement does not progress in a seamless linear fashion, but rather through massive shifts that lead to breakthroughs, which change the course of thought, comprehension and application.

Paradigm provides a metaphor for potential: to grow; to advance; to discover. Its majestic form embodies boldness and courage while the material it is constructed from (weathering steel) gives a respectful nod to the industrial heritage of the area. 

The commission is the result of a long and considered selection process by the Crick, working with Artwise Curators, for a new sculpture which would reflect the ambitions of the institute. A group of eminent international artists was shortlisted in 2013 and, after a rigorous process, Conrad Shawcross' concept for Paradigm was selected.

Paradigm playfully toys with an idea at the very heart of the scientific process; but it also demonstrates just how much public art can add to a city, interacting in intriguing ways with both King's Cross' built environment  and its history.
Ken Arnold, Creative Director, the Wellcome Trust

We commissioned a series of short films to document the design, fabrication and installation of Paradigm. These can be viewed below.


Paradigm videos

An introduction

Design and fabrication