Bleigeissen is the sculptural centrepiece of the Wellcome Trust’s headquarters in London. The narrow 30-metre-high atrium space which it occupies reminded the studio of a gigantic gravity chamber and, combined with the pool of water at the bottom, this gave the idea of experimenting with falling liquids to find a form determined by natural forces. After much experimentation the studio found that pouring molten metal into cold water produced extraordinary unique and tiny objects in a fraction of a second. From more than four hundred pieces created, it eventually selected one, just 50 millimetres high, whose proportions and detail best suited the atrium space. The piece was three-dimensionally scanned and enlarged to 30 metres, scaling up its every idiosyncrasy and contortion. It was a shape that could never have been imagined or instinctively formed in clay. Even though this new building had been designed to accommodate a large object, the only way to bring anything inside was through a domestic-scale door. The studio was uncomfortable with the idea of making a huge object out of door-sized pieces bolted together with visible connection lines. A solution was evolved that used the digital data from the original small metal shape to create the sculpture out of 150,000 beads the size of golf balls threaded on 27,000 wires suspended from the top of the atrium. British glass artists Flux Glass designed the beads with an unusual iridescent quality, made from bonding colour-changing dichroic film between two glass hemispheres. Unlike clear glass beads they have a warmth and life as the colour changes within the sphere magnified depending on the angle of the light and the position of the viewer.


Wellcome Trust


London, UK







Project Leader

Rachel Hain

Studio team

Eleanor Bird, Christos Choraitis, Marion Gillet, Ellen H├Ągerdal, Jem Hanbury, Craig Henderson, Ingrid Hu, Toby Maclean, Simon Macro, Tomomi Matusbi, Craig Stephenson, Stuart Wood


Flux Glass, Manage, Ormiston Wire, Edwina Sassoon, Torpak, WSP Group