Enter the Luminarium!
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Photos by Andre Gagne
I’ve been ushered into sacred temples in Asia with less indoctrination. After removing my shoes, I was given instructions on how to best enjoy the Katena Luminarium at the Ottawa Children’s Festival – a sprawling inflated maze of interlinked dodecahedral domes that resembles a technicolour jelly pineapple on the outside – and then entered through an airlock. I was immediately immersed in a surreal world of neon tunnels and new-age music, as if I’d been abducted by a race of alien hippies and carried away in their spaceship. The glowing neon effect is achieved by allowing natural light to enter through coloured panels stitched seamlessly into the PVC skin.
After navigating the a series of branching conduits, I emerged into the largest of the main domes lit with hundreds of luminous triangles. Staff positioned around the Luminarium informed me that the architecture was inspired by Hindu temples. Indeed, the intention is to offer a calming, meditational and contemplative space. It worked, soothed my frazzled nerves after a hectic morning of appointments and preschooler shenanigans.
That is, until the serenity was abruptly brought to a close.
Expecting children to conduct themselves with serene decorum was to my mind a little absurd. When the next wave of visitors were permitted into the Luminarium, they did what you would expect of kids when confronted by a Teletubbie wonderland – they squealed and ran and bounced around, much to the consternation of the staff. More than once I was told not to take photos of the children behaving, well, like children.
That said, people of all ages will adore this attraction. It was certainly one of the highlights of my visit to the Ottawa Children’s Festival (Of course it would, I’m a slightly serious adult). Here’s to hoping the staff accept those things they cannot change and let everyone experience the Luminarium in their own way.
Check out Martin's 360 picture of the Luminarium here: https://kuula.co/post/7lmv5