“In the Night Garden™,” a popular children’s program broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC), features soft and cuddly characters named Ninky Nonk, Pinky Ponk and Upsy Daisy enjoying life in a beautiful garden. When Ragdoll© Productions Ltd., Buckinghamshire, England, developed a live show to take on tour, the traveling theater in which these life-sized characters played had to be child-centered, appealing, sizable and portable. Tectoniks Ltd., Shropshire, England, filled the bill with an inflatable theater featuring a 14,000-square-foot entrance lobby and an auditorium spacious enough for 13 rows of raised seating.
The four inflatable structures are huge white ellipsoidal forms with identical connecting door openings, allowing easy configuration to the available space. No internal columns block the audience’s view of the colorful garden scenes. Support is provided by pressurized air flowing through thick membrane walls that are welded, stitched and sealed to produce a virtually airtight structure that can stand up to high winds. Images, projected against the entire visible surface of the auditorium, required a membrane that blocked out natural light, while lobby membrane allowed natural light for merchandising, food, beverages and toilets. The structure landed Tectoniks an IFAI 2010 International Achievement Award of Excellence.