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From January 3 to 27, the Sydney Opera House’s forecourt was taken over by a giant inflatable maze called EXXOPOLIS. The structure, called a luminarium, contained light in the same way that an aquarium contains water. It was a creation by Architects of Air, a UK-based group that designs inflatable walk-in sculptures.
The structure combined winding paths and domes, with elements inspired by sources as diverse as Islamic architecture, Archimedean solids, and Gothic cathedrals. EXXOPOLIS included a main dome with a centerpiece called the “Cupola” that was designed based on the late 13th-century polygonal Chapter House of Southwell Minster in Nottinghamshire, England.
The luminarium was designed to use light in an unusual way to create a unique sensory experience for visitors. The daylight radiated through the PVC material of the structure to create a luminous effect. The colors blended and transformed the appearance of people as they followed their maps through the maze. EXXOPOLIS was intended to combine light and color in a way that stimulated the senses and created a sense of wonder.
The inflatable maze measured 53 meters (159 feet) long and about nine meters (27 feet) high. It used 3,000 square meters (27,000 square feet) of plastic in 9,000 pieces. It took 55 people six months to build it initially, but it could be erected in four hours and inflated in only 20 minutes.
Architects of Air created EXXOPOLIS in 2012 to celebrate their 20th anniversary. It is an homage to the company’s first luminarium, EGGOPOLIS.