Net Gain

When Net Blow-Up made its North American premiere on RiverWalk™ during Beakerhead 2014, Calgarians by the thousands came to play on a unique “climbable social sculpture."

Kids and adults alike shed their shoes to climb and explore the immense mesh structure inside the big white tent, but this was no ordinary bouncy castle. Part conceptual art, part jungle gym, part commentary on spatial perception, the wildly popular free event proved that there is no age limit on play and discovery.

The brainchild of the Viennese design collective Numen/For Use, the self-supporting inflated structure encourages users to push their perception of space and dimension while pushing themselves to scale the flexible mesh. And boy, did Calgarians push themselves. “That was so cool; I touched the roof!” exclaimed one flushed youngster, as she emerged from the tent. “It was actually kind of hard to climb,” her dad admitted. “You have to be quick because it keeps moving on you.”

Net Blow-Up proved so popular that curious climbers waited for up to an hour and a half to tackle its peaks. Beakerhead co-founder and science rock-star Jay Ingram chatted with would-be climbers as the line snaked out of the tent and into the brilliant afternoon sunshine. Parents served as good-natured human place-holders while youngsters chased one another and danced to the upbeat background music. “It was just awesome,” declared one mom as she helped her excited brood get their shoes back on post-climb. “It was so worth the wait!”