PNEU | a spatial experience


Set within the historic Church of Holy Trinity in the heart of Trinity Square and steps from the Eaton Centre, the opening party of the Toronto Design Offsite Festival launched. The main feature of the event is an installation from Design Fabrication Zone (DFZ), Ryerson University’s interdisciplinary incubator for design and fabrication. This is the description of the installation provided by the designers:

“Pneu is an immersive pneumatic environment created from the exploration of form-finding, and continual air pressure. The geometric constraints and transparent properties of plastic sheeting reveal a convex mylar pillar. This inhabitable environment invokes the curiosity of the user from afar as they watch others place themselves within the installation. The properties of light, colour, and opacity combine to consume the individual in an unconventional spatial experience.”


What this translates to in real life is a huge bubble made of an opaque, polyurethane material. If you aren’t claustrophobic and can be in closed areas, the interior resembles the core of an apple, where the centre is made of aluminium foil. When you are inside (the bubble) you naturally hug to the curving edges of the structure. There isn’t a lot of space to walk around, and after taking a few pictures, there much else to do but to find the small sliver and exit the bubble.


When you are outside walking around the structure, that’s when the fun begins. The bubble takes up so much space that you have to wait till there’s room before you can move around it. It has this sense of fragility to it that you don’t want to touch or break it. So you watch, you watch the many silhouettes inside the environment, standing still, talking and walking around. It’s a little bit voyueristic in the way the visitors become the artwork, but don’t know that they are presented in that manner.


The more intimate nature of this year’s opening allows visitors and VIP’s the opportunity to truly experience the music, the art and the food in more depth with multiple opportunities to see things in a different light. I’m looking forward to seeing the many other events and exhibits on show this week.

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