Saturday, 4 January 2014

architects of air, color and light

photo © by Lamar Francois (part.)
Yesterday - actually two days ago Down Under - the forecourt
of Sydney Opera House was transformed into a multi-sensory
event with the opening of 'Exxopolis', a massive inflatable
walk-in playground as well as a true art installation inspired
by nature and geometry where Islamic architecture, Archimedean
solids and Gothic cathedrals bewitchingly blend together to create
”an inspiring monument to the beauty of light and colour.”

Exxopolis in Sydney photo © by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
Playful and soulful at the same time, 'Exxopolis' has been
devised by Alan Parkinson, the founder and artistic director
of Nottingham-based company 'Architects of Air', who started
experimenting with pneumatic structures back in the 1980s.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2012, Architects of Air
created 'Exxopolis' acknowledging 'Eggopolis', the 
company's first luminarium built back in 1992.

photo © by AoA
Parkinson, a fine arts teacher and photographer, stepped
into inflatable structures almost by accident while working
for charity for his local probation office. He realized 'Eggopolis'
with the help from volunteers and community service workers
while managing a group of offenders who conceived the project
of an inflatable jumping platform. Since then, he calls 
his jaw-dropping air creations 'luminaria'.

both pictures photo © by John Owens
”Architects of Air seeks to bring a visual surprise and
excitement into the environment and to create the optimum
conditions where people can be moved to a sense of wonder
through the particular phenomenon of luminous colour” the
company statement reads. They're actually architects of air,
color and light and even sound because ambient music is
often spread within the jaw-dropping structures.

photo © by Epa
'Exxopolis' has a city like shape hiding a maze of tunnels
and winding paths connecting separate rooms, soaring
spacious domes filled with translucent panels creating
kaleidoscopic effects of light and color and comfy nooks
where barefoot visitors can enjoy the extraordinary
experience sitting and relaxing while listening to the
music and staring at curved walls and the mosaic-like
ceilings or simply watching other visitors interact with
the sculpture's magnificent features like the giant flower
spouting from the floor or the main dome's 'cupola'
with its 10 scintillating 'stained glass' windows whose
design is based on a Sir Roger Penrose tiling; above
the windows spreads a muqarna-style ceiling 
crowned by an iridescent finial.

photo © by Alan Parkinson
”A luminarium meets a need in people, it offers a space
somewhere between a womb and a cathedral”
; each one
has an original modular design and it's made of several  
pvc elements that are zipped together on site to typically
occupy an area of 100 square meters. It's amazing that
such a stimulating environment can have at once a
soothing effect as well as that only four colors are used
to generate multifarious subtle shades according to the
changing of outside daylight and/or artificial lighting.

photo © by AoA
Throughout the years, AoA's luminaria have been showcased
all over the world, from native UK to Hong Kong, from Taipei
to Singapore, Berlin to Sao Paulo, Muscat to Honolulu,
enchanting thousands of people who could not help taking
countless pictures of these inflatable sanctuaries of 
the senses just like professional photographers did. 
Btw, thanks to all of them for the mesmerizing pics!

photo © by Denis Balibouse/Reuters

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