Architects of Air Build Inflatable Cathedrals of Psychadelic Space

Architecture Design International Newsletter
(Courtesy Architects of Air)

(Courtesy Architects of Air)

To build an inhabitable luminaire you need little more than colored plastic sheeting and an air compressor and the ability to expose said construction to natural light. The finished products are far greater than the sum of the parts, producing results that seem to suggest a series of more elaborately ornamented James Turrell installations. They are the brainchildren of Architects of Air (AoA), a British company that has erected temporary luminaires throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States.

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(Courtesy Architects of Air)

On their website, AoA cites Islamic architecture and Gothic cathedrals as inspirations behind their structures. While at times they wear these influences on their sleeves (or most often on their walls), at other times they appear capable of producing wholly alien experiences. Outside light filters through custom-made semi-translucent PVC. Each structure’s walls are rendered in four colors which are used to produce the variety of hues that bath the interiors. The process is akin to creating a stained glass, a similarity occasionally made quite explicit through confetti-filled design flourishes that evoke cathedral windows.

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(Courtesy Architects of Air)

The exteriors of the blob-like structures are generally sheathed in silver and bear a closer resemblance to the traditional bouncy castle. AoA CEO Alan Parkinson first began experimenting with pneumatic sculptures in the 1980s, his first steps in the creation of what would eventually become luminaria. Since 1992, over 2 million visitors in 40 countries have stepped through the inflated doors of AoA’s creations. In 2014, 6 different models will be touring in North America, Europe, and Australia.

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(Courtesy Architects of Air)

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