The joy of being lost inside Dodecalis Luminarium

At Sydney Festival 2020, we lost ourselves in a world of light and colour inside Dodecalis Luminarium, designed by Architects of Air.

This month, a few of us made our way to Darling Harbour to experience Dodecalis Luminarium, an other-worldly labyrinth designed by Architects of Air.

From the outside, Dodecalis Luminarium looks a bit like an alien spaceship. Inside, it’s a maze of cavernous domes connected by a web of tunnels, saturated in light and colour.

As wayfinding designers, we spend much of our time helping people find their way. So it was amazing to experience a space that is intentionally disorientating – yet despite being lost, you also feel a sense of calm and wonderment.

Designed by Alan and Meko Parkinson, Dodecalis Luminarium is based on the geometry of a 12-sided dodecahedron. Its asymmetrical floor plan is intentionally confusing, while the structure is made of nothing but plastic inflated by air.

As Alan Parkinson told Broadsheet: “The [dodecahedron] form attracts me because it has an asymmetric floor plan that helps to disorientate the visitor. It is essential that visitors lose themselves.”

What is a luminarium?

Since 1992, Architects of Air have been creating enormous air-filled domes and mazes inspired by natural forms, geometric solids, and Islamic and Gothic architecture.

It calls these structures “luminariums” – a sculpture that people can enter and experience a sense of wonder triggered by the beauty of light and colour.

Based in Nottingham in the UK, Architects of Air aims to create a new luminarium every year. Each one is made by hand, constructed from recyclable PVC, and takes between four and six months to complete.

Why we love them

Dodecalis Luminarium shows that the experience of light and colour can be incredibly powerful. Each gently curved space is bathed in dazzling light, which plays tricks on your eyes – it sometimes feels like you’re viewing the world through 3D glasses, yet its saturated colours are created by nothing more than sunshine filtered through PVC.

We also love the inclusivity of Architects of Air’s luminaria. The company grew out of a theatre project for people with learning disabilities, and inclusivity remains central to its work today. Every luminarium is designed for a very broad audience, embracing all ages, abilities, cultures and communities.

This is the third time Architects of Air has exhibited in Sydney. If you missed their installation at Sydney Festival 2020, which closed on 26th January, keep an eye out for future exhibits here.