A massive inflated balloon erected inside the Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany is purported to be the largest inflated envelope suspended without a skeleton. Designed and installed by artists team Christo and the late Jeanne-Claude, Big Air Package is a radical play of both space and light, pushing the limits of scale for a temporary installation.

The artist funded piece is made from 20,350 square meters of a polyester fabric selected for its translucent characteristics. Two fans pressurize the tube shaped balloon to 27 pascals. The buoyant volume stands 90 meters high and 50 meter across. The scale of Big Air Package nearly fully encompasses the Gasometer, allowing only a small passage for visitor to circumambulate the exterior of the installation. A ring of skylights at the top of the Gasometer light the layers of the structure which can be observed from the interior, made accessible by an airlock.

As the lights descends it illuminates the strata of fabric, creating a sense of depth. The unique qualities of the space make for a visceral experience, allowing the scale and place to dissolve. Christo likens the experience as “a cathedral of air, creating a diffused light throughout the interior, muffling the usual sounds and thus generating an atmosphere of silence and tranquility.”

The piece will be installed through December 30th, 2013.

Photos Wolfgang Volz

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