The kaleidoscope was invented two centuries ago and has mesmerized the children peering into its psychedelic depths ever since. Now children are a living component of a supersize kaleidoscope. It’s permanently installed at the Hotel Castell dels Hams in Porto Cristo, a resort town on the Spanish island of Majorca.
A2Arquitectos p artners Juan Manzanares Suárez and Cristian Santandreu Utermark, who also built the award-winning spa at the hotel, came back to design the kaleidoscope. It occupies a freestanding pavilion that previously housed a squash court: The hexagonal tube extends almost 30 feet to emerge from opposite walls, with access via 8-foot-tall external stairs.
The plasterboard tube is bolted to a steel frame, inside the pavilion, lined with a mirrored surface comprising 140 acrylic panels, and lit after sunset by LEDs. Instead of colorful glass beads tumbling about, kids are what produce the intricate patterns by moving through—the tube’s 8-foot diameter provides plenty of headroom for skipping and jumping.
Adults can walk through as well. Or they can watch the goings-on from below, via another 19th-century invention, the periscope.