Project Director: Wolfgang Volz
Big Air Package, a project for the Gasometer Oberhausen, Germany, was conceived in 2010 and on view from March 16 to December 30, 2013.
The sculpture was installed inside the Gasometer. It was made from 20,350 square meters (219,000 square feet) of semitransparent polyester fabric and 4,500 meters (14,800 feet) of polypropylene rope. The inflated envelope was 90 meters (295 feet) high, with a diameter of 50 meters (164 feet), a volume of 177,000 cubic meters (6,250,000 cubic feet) and a total weight of 5,300 kilograms (11,700 pounds).
The Gasometer was built in 1928/29 to store the blast furnace gas that is generated as a by-product of the industrial processing of iron ore. It is one of the largest gas tanks in the world, 117 meters (384 feet) high by 68 meters (223 feet) in diameter.
Big Air Package could be experienced from the outside and inside. It nearly spanned the distance from wall to wall of the Gasometer, leaving only a small passage to walk around the sculpture. Airlocks allowed visitors to enter the package, which was self-supporting and kept upright by two air fans creating a constant pressure of 27 pascal (0.27 millibar).
Christo and Jeanne-Claude created their first sculpture involving air in 1966. The artists’ last air package was erected at documenta IV in Kassel in 1968. It stood 85 meters (280 feet) tall, with a diameter of 10 meters (32.8 feet) and a volume of 5,600 cubic meters (198,000 cubic feet).
Big Air Package was the largest ever inflated envelope without a skeleton. Illuminated through the skylights of the Gasometer, the work of art was a cathedral of air, creating a diffused light throughout the interior, muffling the usual sounds and thus generating an atmosphere of silence and tranquility.