Shannon Ham

Staff Writer


Associated Students Program Board and Architects of Air will open the Exxopolis Luminarium on the Lagoon and Faculty Club Lawns tomorrow, with the exhibit remaining open through Sunday.

The Luminarium is an inflatable maze structure featuring labyrinth-like tunnels, domed passageways and patterns of colored lights. Architects of Air, the company that created the Exxopolis and 15 other luminaria structures, has built over 500 exhibitions in 37 countries since 1992.

According to Alan Parkinson, founder and designer of Architects of Air, inspiration for the luminaria came from light, architecture and shapes, whether manmade or natural.

“The prime inspiration is the desire to create structures that frame the experience of light,” Parkinson said in an e-mail. “Secondary are the forms that take their inspiration from cathedrals, mosques, geometric solids and natural forms.”

Through the fusion of design and engineering, the Luminarium uses a special type of plastic that creates a rainbow of hues, which alter depending on the time of day and amount of sunshine. With no elevated areas, the Luminarium is completely wheelchair accessible and disability safe. It seeks to provide an atmosphere of duality between the realistic and the futuristic, Parkinson said.

“The Luminarium is where the pneumatic environment has its own particularity,” Parkinson said in an e-mail. “[It is] a labyrinth that has an aspect of being womb-like, in other words very natural, and space-age, quite unnatural, and is a monumental structure that manages to be ephemeral and accessible to everyone.”

This is the second year the Luminarium has been presented on campus. According to Ryan Yamamoto, a third-year sociology major and A.S. Program Board Cultural Events Coordinator, the Luminarium was brought back due to its popularity in 2012.

“There were so many people [last year] that, unfortunately, weren’t able to actually enter the exhibit. We figured, ‘Why not have it for a second time?’ And anyone who didn’t get a chance will be able to,” Yamamoto said. “[The Exxopolis] is different because the main hub of it is not in the middle but towards the back where it has a cathedral-looking stained glass appeal to it from the inside, which I’m really looking forward to seeing.”

Yamamoto said people should take advantage of the event’s extended duration until Sunday and should not wait until the last day to attend.

“For everyone that wasn’t able to go last year, they can get that opportunity this year, and then it can really be a whole school event,” Yamamoto said. “Similar to Extravaganza at the end of the year, this is something that everyone in the school can say they went to.”

Many UCSB students have already expressed interest in the opening of the Luminarium, with over 1,300 students registered as “going” on the Luminarium’s Facebook event page.

Grace Kim, a second-year communication major and A.S. Program Board Graphics Assistant, attended the event last year.

“I’m really excited for the Luminarium because I went last year and it was awesome,” Kim said. “I know a lot of people were bummed out because they weren’t able to check it out, so I’m excited for those who will be checking it out for the first time. It’s a cool and very different type of event that anyone can enjoy and I know Program Board worked really hard on this, so I know it’s going to be amazing. I’m sure many students are as thrilled as I am!”

The event will also be taking food donations for the A.S. Food Bank, which provides students with free, non-perishable foods. Attendees are encouraged to donate items such as oatmeal, canned fruits, vegetables, beans, meat, soup and pasta. A crate or bin will be available at the entrance of the Luminarium for donation drop-offs.

According to Annie Tran, a first-year environmental science and economics double major, the event not only provides an interesting artistic experience but also seeks to benefit the campus community through the Food Bank donations.

“I’m really excited that the Luminarium is coming back,” Tran said. “I saw pictures of it from last year and the concept seemed pretty cool to walk through. I’m really into innovative design, so it’s interesting to look at the construction of the whole thing. The community service aspect of it with the donations of food is for a good cause, too.”

Attendees will be required to take off their shoes before stepping into the Luminarium, and children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. The maximum capacity for the structure is 80 people at a time, but AS will try to keep each person’s visit within a 15-minute time frame.

The Luminarium is free to enter and will be open to all UCSB students, faculty and staff from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow and Friday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more information about the event, refer to the Facebook page entitled, “Exxopolis Luminarium at UCSB Lagoon.” To find out more about Architects of Air’s different luminaria structures, visit



A look inside some of the colored corridors of the Exxopolis Luminarium. Associated Students Program Board and Architects of Air invite all UCSB students, faculty and staff to explore the inflatable maze structure, located next to the UCSB Lagoon, from tomorrow through Sunday.
A version of this article appeared on page 3 of April 3rd, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus