architects of air celebrate 22 years of inflatable domes with EXXOPOLIS architects of air celebrate 22 years of inflatable domes with EXXOPOLIS
apr 16, 2013

architects of air celebrate 22 years of inflatable domes with EXXOPOLIS

‘EXXOPOLIS luminarium’ by architects of air, traveling installationimage © lamar francoisall images courtesy of architects of air




EXXOPOLIS is architects of air‘s 20th luminarium, a cluster of monumental inflatable structures completely illuminated by natural light and until recently, created devoid of computers. the current inflatable is touring the united states, with the most recent technicolored installation at university of california santa barbara. while the wondrously colorful domes have evoked a sense of awe worldwide for the last 22 years, the most recent iteration of the ephemeral structures commemorates the original EGGOPOLIS, created in nottingham with help from volunteers and community service workers. 2 million visitors and 38 countries later, the architectural language has developed into a series of spaces richly informed by the complex geometries of the natural landscape and represents a evolution of the personal formal language of alan parkinson, the company’s founder.


EXXOPOLIS specifically references the chapter house of southwell minster and enlisted the original community center than helped lay the foundations for the project, using a workshop series entitled ‘windows project.’ the nylon skins were zippered and glued into stained glass window patterns based on tiling designs by mathematician and physicist sir roger penrose. the complete structure occupies half a football field and rises to the height of a three storey house. in total the work used 3000 square meters of plastic in 9000 individual pieces joined by 6 kilometers of seams.



see designboom coverage of previous luminariums here




light, sound and architecture combine to envelope the viewer in a rich range of luminous color

image © john owens image courtesy of architects of air



(left): interior view of the ‘EXXOPOLIS’ tree and its brilliant reds

(right): view into the iridescent purples and blues of the main cupola images © alan parkinson / architects of air



the main cupola is one of the redesigned main spaces for the 20th anniversaryimage © john owens


the cupola is awash in deep and brilliant cool hues image © lamar francois


details of the main dome more clearly show the stained glass and islamic muqarna referencesimage © lamar francois



the creation of the forms is also an intellectual endeavor, drawing from the intricacies of islamic architecture, principals of mathematics and pneumaticsimage © alan parkinson



the network of colorful nylon tunnels enlivens natural interior light image © john owens


one of the polychromatic nexus-like, hallways image © john owens



installation view at torun, polandimage © john owens

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