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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Architects of Air

  • On December 4, 2005

Chill out zones are enjoying something of a revival at the moment, along with all architectural things one vaguely associates with the 1960’s. so it comes as no surprise to find “luminarium” by the outfit collectively know as Architects of Air which have most recently been showing their piece “Levity 2” in Geneva.

Here’s their sixth “luminarium” project. Exhibited a few years ago heart of the Edinburgh Festival. 128ft long by 107ft wide, rising to 26ft at its highest point, its glowing interior colours generated by nothing more complicated than daylight – is called Arcazzar, and the name is apt. The structures designed and made by the Nottingham and Geneva based artist Alan Parkinson, is not a single inflatable building, but a linked series of fantastically shaped domes and towers. It is a kasbah that takes Morrish architecture as its starting point and then, as Gaudi did in Barcelona a century or more ago, turns into something highly organic and distinctly ambivalent. Not that Gaudi would have recognised it.

There is no mystery to the technology of such luminaria – they share that with the ubiquitous bouncy castle and a number of inflatable sports halls around the country. All you need to keep them going are electric fans, and not very big ones, either. But what Parkinson has done, ever since he started experimenting with these forms in the 1980s and went on the road with them a decade ago, is treat the inflated object as an immersive art experience, in which light, sound and architectural form combine.

I’m interested in the idea of inflatable interactive architecture at the moment and LTR (Lighter than Air) engineering like helium balloons. Expect my own interactive inflatables here soon.


  1. good source Famous architects

  2. David

    I do haunted attractions and have my own blow up castle. I was interested in extending my attraction with something like this. Maybe not as big, but with the same idea. I was wondering where I could find a fairly decent priced inflatable with neat design that could do just that.

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