Rainbow Machine

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  • 2020

  • Architectural
    Urban

Designed By:

  • Sarosh Mulla
  • Shahriar Asdollah-Zadeh
  • Patrick Loo
  • Otahuhu Engineering, Callaghan Innovation,
  • Kiwi Star Optics, Holmes Consulting

Commissioned By:

Auckland Council

Designed In:

New Zealand

Rainbow Machine is an immersive experience of natural light through interactive play. The design allows children and adults to create rainbows by harnessing natural light. The installation creates its own spatial experience, connecting design, art, science, engineering and innovation to create an ephemeral moment in saturated colour within urban environments.


  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • Population growth presents Auckland with new challenges and opportunities. Providing quality high-density living for families in the inner CBD is one of those many challenges. How can Auckland provide more urban amenities specifically for families? Auckland Council and the Waitemata Local Board continue to provide more creative experiences for children living in the Waitemata area. We were approached to create an interactive play-space for children, an experience that they could discover and visit with their families. We took this as an opportunity to really explore what urban intervention could mean in the context of curiosity, innovation and interactive play.

  • Rainbow Machine is an interactive public installation that allows the creation of rainbows within the urban environment. The installation creates its own spatial experience, connecting design, art, science, engineering and innovation to create an ephemeral moment in saturated colour. The design bridges the gap between contemporary play-space design and interactive experience, providing a simple way for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy one of nature’s most intriguing phenomena. The public can create rainbow patterns through the manipulation of an adjustable prismatic viewing cone. It’s designed to be a movable structure and can be installed at different locations.

  • Sunlight is one of nature’s elements that we all need to exist, yet often we don’t comprehend its true value within our daily lives. Rainbow Machine enables the participant to playfully perceive and capture the essence of sunlight and its colour spectrum through physical activation. We designed this for children and adults to interact and experience it together through discovery and play. The relationship between science and art is paramount within the design of the experience. The immersive environment activates embodied learning for children prompting interaction between the child and caregiver, as they question how and why this effect happens.

  • Rainbow Machine is designed as a mobile structure and can be programmed for different locations, events and festivals. Its form is reminiscent of the types of mechanical devices often found in children's playgrounds. Elements (like the wheels and its luminous colour) are positioned and shaped to encourage curiosity and intuitive interaction. Hung above the ground on a rotatable post, the cone position is scaled for children, while comfortably accessible for caregivers. The public can create rainbow patterns through the manipulation of an adjustable prismatic viewing cone. The custom-made prisms and optical module were built using innovative technology with specialised telescope manufacturing processes. The user can pivot the cone towards the sun, using two geared wheels (large and small). When the right angle is struck, natural light is passed through a series of prisms and mirrors at the top of the cone, which refracts the light to produce a rainbow. The inner cone provides a darkened surface for the colour spectrum while creating a space where one can focus on the rainbow effect without distraction as it glides off the wall and onto you. By setting the cone at differing angles, a variety of unique projections can be created harnessing sunlight.