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Architects of Air

Inside a rainbow: Exxopolis transforms Discovery Green into an alternate world of light, color and air

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Architects of Air brings Exxopolis to Discovery Green
Red dome Photo by Whitney Radley
Architects of Air brings Exxopolis to Discovery Green
Green dome Photo by Whitney Radley
Architects of Air brings Exxopolis to Discovery Green
Blue dome Photo by Whitney Radley
Architects of Air brings Exxopolis to Discovery Green
The cupola Photo by Whitney Radley
Architects of Air brings Exxopolis to Discovery Green
The cupola's ceiling Photo by Whitney Radley
Architects of Air brings Exxopolis to Discovery Green
The exterior gives little indication of what's inside. Photo by Whitney Radley
Architects of Air brings Exxopolis to Discovery Green
Architects of Air brings Exxopolis to Discovery Green
Architects of Air brings Exxopolis to Discovery Green
Architects of Air brings Exxopolis to Discovery Green
Architects of Air brings Exxopolis to Discovery Green
Architects of Air brings Exxopolis to Discovery Green

A landscape of silvery plastic covered a half-football field-sized patch of Jones Lawn at Discovery Green on Friday afternoon. It wasn't long before the amorphous plastic sheet began to fill up with air and undulate in the wind, peaks and bulges slowly unfurling. And then suddenly, it was still.

This is Exxopolis, a "luminarium" conceived by British artist Alan Parkinson and stitched together by hand over the course of four months in the Nottingham workshop of Architects of Air.

"I think of it as an interactive sculptural artwork of light and color. If I'm describing what it looks like to kids, I usually say it's like going inside a rainbow or a kaleidoscope," says Shanti Freed, exhibition manager for Architects of Air.

 "If I'm describing what it looks like to kids, I usually say it's like going inside a rainbow or a kaleidoscope."

The rules are simple: No shoes, no running, no jumping, no sliding down the structure's walls — but you probably won't be tempted to anyway.

Winding paths connect to high-ceilinged domes and quiet alcoves, ambient music plays through speakers, sunlight streams through the colored plastic. It's easy to be transported to that parachute game in elementary school P.E. class, or the intricate interior of La Sagrada Família, or a dream landscape.

Parkinson, who was inspired by Iranian bazaars and the geometry of nature, hopes that visitors will bring those personal experiences to their interpretation of the piece.

Exxopolis will be open to the public through Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 1 to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children under 12 and free for children under 3.

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