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Art meets science: let’s make rainbows

Published: 25 January 2019

Auckland children can now make rainbows any time the sun is shining thanks to the creativity of artists working with Callaghan Innovation. 

In a unique blend of science, design, innovation, art and engineering, Auckland’s Rainbow Machine is now live for children and families to enjoy at Silo Park.

Visit Silo Park between 25 January and 31 March and turn the machine's bright yellow module to face the sun and make rainbows, without needing a single raindrop. If the sun’s not shining, you can still interact and play with the machine’s robust mechanics. 

Scientists from Callaghan Innovation brought their expertise to the design of the optical module from which rainbow spectra are formed, enabling the concept team of architects and artists Shahriar Asdollah-Zadeh, Patrick Loo and Sarosh Mulla to bring Rainbow Machine to life.

It houses eight custom-made lenses to refract light. The lenses and the module were built using innovative technology with specialised manufacturing processes. The team at Ōtāhuhu Engineering fabricated all the mechanical parts.

Councillor Penny Hulse says, “We’re excited about our new Rainbow Machine as it is designed especially for our youngest citizens, our pre-schools and primary schools, and our visiting children and families, bringing the fun and magic of physics to our city environment. Adults might learn something too about the refraction of light through a prism.

“We’re pleased to unveil this new interactive attraction for the children of Auckland, bringing new educational and inspirational elements to our streetscape. As we work towards building Auckland into a world-class city we need to be installing innovative, interactive pieces like this which delight and are inclusive of our children,” she says.

Rainbow Machine at Silo Park will host performance activations by White Face Crew on 26 and 27 January, celebrating Auckland Anniversary with debut rainbows (depending on the sun) by the city’s children and families. It will make a special appearance at Big Gay Out on 10 February and round off the summer back at Silo Park.

From April, many more families will be able to experience the excitement of Rainbow Machine as Auckland Council moves the re-locatable module to pop up in other parts of the city.

Rainbow Machine at Silo Park is one of many art programmes, festivals and events across the city helping to build a sense of identity and belonging for Aucklanders.

Waitematā Local Board, which supported some of the early concept designs, is hosting Rainbow Machine’s first installation at Silo Park. 

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