Inflatable Walk-in Sculpture ‘Arboria’ Takes over Melbourne’s Federation Square

A 32-metre inflatable sculpture of colourful tunnels and brightly-lit domes has been installed in Federation Square.

The Arboria installation is a walk-in sculpture by the world-renowned Architects of Air.

Inspired by a forest, the installation includes tree-like pillars and soaring ceilings, with a soundscape of forest sounds.

The cathedral-like ceiling inside the Arboria installation.

At its centre is a 10-metre high dome, lit by natural light filtering through the coloured material.

Much like a children’s jumping castle, people are only allowed inside once they remove their shoes.

The early visitors were enthusiastic, running through the coloured tunnels and skidding about on the padded floor.

Tunnels of light inside the Arboria sculpture at Federation Square.

It could be called art, sculpture or architecture, but exhibition manager Gabriel Burden believed the work defied definition.

“It doesn’t fit into those brackets, which I suppose is what makes it so unique,” he said.

“People come in here and say ‘wow’, they haven’t seen anything like it before,”

Arboria was designed by Alan Parkinson, who has been creating inflatable sculpture for the past 25 years.

“He gets his inspiration from various things — geometric forms in nature, from Islamic architecture for example… and you can see that in some of the structures, the domes and so on,” Mr Burden said.

People walk through the Arboria art installation.

A few lucky children were the first to enter the space and gave rave reviews.

“It looks very magical, with all the patterns and stuff like that on the roof,” said one girl.

Erica Louise brought her son, Liam, and said he showed new-found confidence exploring the tunnels.

“It’s been good for him and me,” she said.

“It’s nice and soft, I wasn’t expecting it to be so soft on the feet.”

The exhibition is accessible for wheelchairs and prams, and is open until the 28th of January.

The sculpture as seen from the outside in Federation Square.