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Inflatable forest comes to life with human interaction

Case Studies | November 1, 2020 | By:

The Canopy is an inflatable art installation that invites visitors to interact as they choose—some pedaling on bikes that transform the sculptures with movement and light, some cheering on the bikers, and some wandering through the grove, allowing the canopy of trees to open and close around them. Photos: Pneuhaus.

The Canopy, an inflatable installation that debuted in 2019 at the Light City festival in Baltimore, Md., is designed to bring people together for a greater good. At first glance, it is a forest of tree-like sculptures that are white in the daylight and aglow with neon colors at night. That’s where people come in. The sculptures are attached to bike-driven generators, and as visitors pedal, the trees fill and release air, causing them to spin and sway with vibrant color and movement.

The Canopy was created by IFAI member Pneuhaus, Rumford, R.I., maker of inflatable art and architecture, in collaboration with Baltimore-based Can-duit, a bicycle-based experience design company. The concept was inspired by a phenomenon known as crown shyness, where a grove of trees grows together to create a continuous canopy while never overcrowding.

Part of the fun of the installation is seeing how the bikers’ efforts transform the sculptures. The grove is in constant motion with the momentum of the bikers, inflating, deflating, illuminating and darkening.  When people race together, the excitement builds as the trees change with their collaborative energy. The experience also demonstrates the power of sustainable energy through green electricity generated by the bicycles.

Each sculpture is made of flexible white nylon through which 80 feet of LED lights are strung. In daylight they reflect the ambient colors of the sky and site mixed with the colors projected by the LEDs. At night, vibrant reds, blues and greens emit a beacon-like glow.

The exhibit was a runner-up for the Built Environment Award at the Core77 Design Awards 2020. For more, visit

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