Leah Wulfman: Young Architects Project (YAP)

One of six installations for the digital exhibition by winners of the 2024 League Prize.

Young Architects Project (YAP) is a playable, gameable, deformable, inflatable, and interactive deconstructed bounce house. A collaboration between League Prize Leah Wulfman and 5-year-old Jin Meisenberg, the inflatable video game and mixed reality architecture installation invites participants to bounce upon their understanding of space.

With this project, Leah combines their previous work making inflatable forms and developing mixed reality video games into a spatially interactive game and architectural drawing board played out on a kit-of-(play)-parts bounce house. Such play-learning through immersivity and embodied physicality is central to Wulfman’s practice and teaching, often filled with multi-dimensional, multi-reality games, toys, materials, forms, and models.

The YAP project has been commissioned by Materials & Applications (M&A) for their Los Angeles Storefront, and for which, Leah and Jin both receive Artist Fees and Contracts. For the past weeks, Jin and Leah dived into an asynchronous, back-and-forth collaborative drawing exercise, where they reimagined and brought to life the other’s drawings and interpretations. Shown below are the results coming out of that initial period of working on the project, with more progress and collaboration still unfolding.

Within the space of the exhibition, young architects and all forever kids freely interpret and continuously reinterpret the architecture, as mediated by an interactive video game projection mapped onto the inflatable forms. Through the immersive, adlib video game, players individually and collectively re-envision and remap the inflatable and deflatable architectural forms, drawings, and their readings through live-projected hand drawings—with crayon and marker in hand. Architectural forms, elements, and styles flip and flop between their 2D and 3D inflated forms and drawn reinterpretations: 

A column becomes a chimney with balloons becomes a tower becomes a mountain, doors and windows open up and become more or less numerous letting us into new spaces and stories, while architectural elements of columns and walls interactively deflate and inflate with gameplay. The immersive architecture bridges physical and digital play-learning, and in these scenarios, children of all ages have agency to be game and space makers.

The forms play off common architectural features and elements, toy blocks and kit-of-parts building toys, but rather tend towards queerer means and ends, as—in concept, and especially, in becoming full scale—the toys flop over one another, they sag, they deflate, they inflate, they get soft, they get hard, they pile and plug into each other in a variety of ways.

Using crayons and paint markers, a loose base hand drawing is added onto the colorful ripstop nylon inflatable forms. This initial drawing and loose spatial reading is then added onto and reinvisioned by installation visitors and players as their own paper crayon drawings are live projection-mapped onto the inflatables and existing drawings, promoting an iterative retelling of the architectural forms and elements.

An early prototype, drawings, and toy models are shown below, with full forthcoming exhibition openings later this summer at Materials & Applications (M&A) and early fall at Gameplayarts in Los Angeles.

Jin drawing, cutting out and collaging pieces for a deconstructed bounce house architecture.

Jin’s pack of 2D cutout hand drawings for a deconstructed bounce house architecture.

Jin’s hand drawings on top of elevation line drawings.

Jin Ketevan Georgia Meisenberg:

“This is a fairy house,

This is a funny dinosaur – a rhinoceros,

This is for me like a big funny dinosaur and it is t.rex,

This is for me a rainbow angel.

It’s super special, it can make hoops, and turns like a good good flyer.

This is a sand-clock house, it can fly it has 3 crowns on it that’s why, it can fly

This is an eye house, it has something special, the eyes can move, close and it can fly.

This is the littlest thinnest house, it can transform into a tree or a big big eye ball

The biggest biggest biggest house from all is something even more special, it is a rainbow dot, they are super special, they can fly and jump away. But the most special is the spiral on top of the house, it has pink dots, they are super special as they can swim inside of the spiral. And because I love uzumaki! Uzumaki means spiral, and it is a story. It is a little bit scary. Because everyone loves uzumaki!

Hm I think it’s a little clock for me inside of a rainbow rainbow house—people make rainbows inside, they make them with stardust and water and rainbow colors, glitter, and of course, stars, nothing else. They can do hundred sixty forty eight rainbows in one night. These rainbows are Special as they can fly, jump, pee and make kaka.

A House inside, they just sleep for the whole day they don’t do anything they are just bored because they are sleepyheads, if someone asks them to make food they say later. They sleep for their whole lives, they don’t care at all!

Bored people! They are all sleepyheads!

They don’t want to get up later! They just lie in bed. Sleepy bored sleepy cleany.

This is a wheel home, no it’s a rocket!

It can fly to the galaxy in the middle of the galaxy, there is the biggest wave, the biggest black hole, when you go through it you disappear, you don’t come back. It’s like death. It kills you. It’s painful, you never can go back, you are just dead. It looks like magic, but it kills you!

A flying home, a chicken home, it says bok bok bok, no it say kukeldifooooo, it walks like a chicken. And it has a chicken tail.

It’s a waterhome where water comes out—they make water just out of water! They squirt it out of the home. To make everyone wet! They just have fun.”

HO-scale model, 2D and 3D play pieces with crayons.

HO-scale architectural model of installation in Materials & Applications (M&A).

HO-scale model surrounded by scattered 3D toy play pieces.

HO-scale model surrounded by played with, built variations 3D toy play pieces.

HO-scale model of installation in Materials & Applications (M&A) storefront space.

Half-scale prototype, ripstop nylon inflatables.

Isolated deflation and inflation of half-scale column.

Deflation and inflation of all half-scale inflatable ripstop nylon prototypes.

Deflation and inflation of all half-scale inflatable ripstop nylon prototypes.

Early render test with crayon drawings on ripstop nylon inflatables.


Project Team Leah Wulfman and Jin Ketevan Georgia Meisenberg
Material Research Assistance Seth Richardson and Owen Vollick-Offer
(In-Progress) Game Development Assistance Spencer Reay
Thank you Anna K.E. and Florian Meisenberg