If you were the type of kid who got super stoked when a birthday party involved a bounce house, I really hope you made it to Exxopolison the Lagoon Lawn this past weekend.

Exxopolis, one of 20 Luminariums build by Architects of Air, is the ULTIMATE bounce house experience.

Just like in the little kid days, I had to wait my turn in line, take off my shoes and spit out mygrape-flavored Big League Chew gum before I entered. (Just kidding. No one chews BLC anymore.)

Unlike the little kid days, this particular moon bounce spread out the size of half of a football fieldand made me feel as though I had accidentally crawled through a wormhole and ventured into another planet. Instead of frantically jumping on the puffy bounce house floor, in Exxopolis I lounged on the cushiony sides in a meditative fashion.

Think Bounce House on Jupiter. Upon entering Exxopolis, I was greeted by an A.S. Program Board member who kindly repeated factoids and instructions in a tour guide manner. (“Exxopolis is the 20thLuminarium created by Architects of Air for their 20th Anniversary. It is inspired by Islamic Architecture and it composed of 9,000 individual pieces of plastic joined with 6 kilometers of seams.”)

Then someone opened up the hatch, and strange alien-esque music filled my ears. As I stepped through the hatch, a brilliant glow of green covered my arms and legs. This was the Green Room.

Up above were pentagonal shapes which meshed together in perfect geometric fashion. Everything in Exxopolis had been hand cut and hand stitched, from the three-story high roofed ceilings to the billowy walls that I got to stretch out on. It only took six months for Exxopolis’s completion and it was truly an amazing experience to be in something so delicate.

Skipping through the Green Room, which was directly under the sun and abhorrently hot, I spread out in a nook in the considerably cooler Blue Room. Each nook was globe-shaped and had a surfboard emblem in the center that glowed yellow.

If you stared at a nook for too long you would start noticing that it oddly resembled the eyeball of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings (you know, the angry one that Frodo sees screaming whenever he puts on the ring) or perhaps a woman’s open reproductive system. This got to be really funny because people posing right in front of a nook appeared as though they were walking straight out of their mommy’s you-know what, like heey world I’m here what’s up.

The Red Room was by far the hottest. My sixteen year old cousin likes to tell me that whenever I am cold I should just look at something that is the color red, like a ketchup bottle, and my mind will warm my body up. Well, I never quite believed her until I sat in the red room and absolutely died. You could feel the steam coming from the sun and penetrating the red into angry saturation. It was a heat wave for the mind and the body.

I left the Red Room quickly, and found a sanctuary in the lulling Principal Dome, also known as the Cupola. This room was a sight for sore eyes. The Principal Dome was at the very northern tip of Exxopolis and looked very much like a puffy purple mosque.

On the ceiling was this amazing geometric sun adorned with a yellow and pink orb in the center. The surrounding triangles alternated from purple to blue and there were these little diamonds sewn into the fabric that sparkle like twinkly Christmas lights. The whole ceiling was unreal to the eyes. It was, to put it bluntly, a trip.

The high-rise walls of the Principal Dome were somehow even more delightful; ten windowswith interlocking blue rhombuses and red hexagons mimicked stained glass windows of a cathedral.

The Principal Dome was the coldest room (probably because it was farthest from the sun) and its calming purple hues made lots of folks relax. I affectionately called it the nap room, because the whole floor was practically covered with folks – students, adults, and toddlers alike – stretched flat on their backs, taking in the incredible sun on the ceiling.

An added bonus to the nap room? It was laid out on a nice patch of mud, and the squishy texture was the best feeling for feet tired from walking around at Deltopia.

I don’t know about you, but to me, there is something incredibly captivating about stomping around in mud and feeling it squish through my toes. Unfortunately it is such a mess that I never do it often enough. Plus worms are disgusting. The Exxopolis took care of the messy/wormy part without sacrificing any of the pleasure of squishing down in the soft, spongy earth.

Exxopolis was an alien cavern, a splendid combination of art and architecture, and a place you’ll wish you could have had a paintball war in. For me, it was a solid place for some mud stomping, hearty mediation, and a good old nap. If it comes around next year (and please do!), you can bet you’ll see me tiptoeing in with my PJ’s on.

For more information on Exxopolis or Architects of Air, visit http://www.architects-of-air.com/.



A version of this article appeared on page 14 of the April 11th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus