To inspire his children to be makers (and not just consumers), Dubai-based dad Laurence Fauchelle has designed a paper sculpture in his free time that is the world’s largest and most complex paper marble run.
The paper sculpture has been installed at Dubai’s first-of-its-kind experiential play museum for children and parents – OliOli in Al Quoz. Over 100 children assisted Laurence and the OliOli team to build the structure in 1,000 hours.
Laurence, who builds yachts and boats for a living, came up with the concept while watching his boys and their friends playing with paper marble runs over the summer holidays.
“It was just a school project (a paper marble run) that I did with my son, and when he took it to school, his friends absolutely loved it. So I told him to invite his friends over and we could all build more marble runs with them so that each of them could take one home. This is how the founders of OliOli then initiated this idea to build a massive paper marble run.”
The paper marble run comprises 350 anti-prisms built, 332 tricks and parts, and about 200 metres of track, which all took 1,045 hours of building.
Talking about how the idea of the biggest marble run came about, Laurence said: “Since I am a manufacture engineer, I have a lot of interest in complicated designs, and the amazing aspect of making this structure at OliOli was that it allowed families to come with their children and help them build it. I enjoy that, and we thought why not design a big one.”
Laurence calls himself a crazy dad who loves having fun with his kids and said he is driven to inspire children to learn to design and create things using everyday materials, instead of just buying them.
While the idea of the paper marble run was masterminded by Laurence, most of the tricks and tracks were built by the children who attended the OliOli workshops conducted by instructors Teri and Reid, full-time employees of the play museum.
“We then have schoolchildren as well as other kids come in, working with us in making tricks and joining the tracks, seeing if the tracks can hold the weight of the marble or not. The kids create all the tracks and tricks and they work out the route they want for the marble run. There are dense networks of tracks with different tricks, catchers, levers, spirals,” added Teri. The anti-prism structure is pre-assembled for the kids by Laurence and the OliOli team, as it is very time-consuming and complicated, they said.
Laurence designed the 3D structure on his computer and then unrolled it flat. He, along with Teri and Reid, used double-sided tape, glue stick, and Sellotape to join them. It took them about six to seven weeks to put the whole structure together to make it the largest marble run in the world.
Talking about how he would take some time off after work, Laurence said: “It is not a commercial venture, it is being done purely for fun and the happiness of the family. I don’t come here too much during the week as I’m caught up with work, but I come on my weekends for some 6-8 hours and complete as much work as I can.”
OliOli, which translates as ‘joy’ in Hawaiian, has provided a fun, exciting, and engaging environment for families around the country and beyond. The eight galleries housed over two floors focused on hands-on activities that nurture curiosity, imagination, and exploration.