What A Beautiful Experience!
To try to explain the concept of an inflatable structure without conjuring the image of a bouncy castle at a kid’s party is pretty much impossible, really. But WOW.
A Luminarium is an inflated structure made with a combination of translucent and opaque materials. It creates a magical space inside where light filters in in coloured patterns to different domes and bubbles and alcoves. It is all connected seemlessly as a great whole and yet each space and coloured area feels separate and new.
This particular Luminarium by the Architects of Air, named Katena, is the latest in a group of more than 20 similar structures. This one has been built around the geometric shapes found in Islamic Architecture.
Aeryn, Ben and I queued patiently for 45 minutes for our turn inside. If we had had enough foresight, we would have pre-booked tickets, but Aeryn was happy to smile at babies in the queue and take us in turn for walks around the structure. We were called, tucked our shoes into a little cubby hole and were ushered into an ante-chamber, before entering the luminarium properly.
The soft, ethereal music combined with the gentle, beautiful lights made it feel very womb-like; relaxing and safe. Several children were running wild with glee through the curved corridors and spaces, but it didn’t distract from the beauty of the whole. Much like the busyness of a beehive doesn’t diminish the beauty of the honeycomb.
Aeryn was astonished and awestruck and excited and certainly in explorer mode. She moved from space to space and back again, revisiting the same areas and finding new ones. She loves touching the translucent walls that seem to glow, seeing her hands in sillhouette. Later, she was calm, and just wandered, taking it in. We stopped for milk in a little glowing green alcove and it is probably one of the most serene places I have nursed her.
The ceilings were magical. It was clear to see how similar patterns could be used in Islamic architecture to help Muslims feel closer to Allah. Your eyes are drawn up to the central dome; to a higher place, I suppose, if you are spiritual.
I’m not crazy. I know Aeryn wasn’t wandering around thinking about Islamic architects or the finesse of the worksmanship. But she appreciated art. She saw colour and light and curve and expanse and enclosure and appreciated the space. She enjoyed it. She felt something.
Making something beautiful so accessible for even the tiniest of visitors is quite a feat. We all loved it and we would definitely recommend it as a wonderful activity for a family of any age, or just adults alone. I wish we could have stayed the whole day!