For the weeklong Burning Man festival, a temporary city is built in the Black Rock Desert in northwestern Nevada where every year more than 65 000 participants endure extremely harsh living conditions to create an artistic community unique in the world.
They settle on a clearly defined layout organically improved over two decades of adaptation to the growth of its population and ever increasing regulations that govern a private event held on public land.
The Leave No Trace, Self-reliance and Decommodification principles condition the nature of this habitat and demand
a new approach to urban planning and the viability of temporary dwellings.
To survive in style (or not) a scorching sun, destructive gusts of wind
and the omnipresent dust, Burners, forward-looking citizens, come up with solo and communal camps, the fruition of year-long preparations along with sheer improvisation, to create an ephemeral architecture that will vanish leaving deep memories and no trace.
Top radial 8:00 Bottom half-radial 9:45 Streets from A to K
Pink Mammoth (pink dot) is at 8:30@E
Distrikt (empty spot) is at 9:00@G
Top right Center Camp Café
Radials from right to left: 6:30, 6:45 (half-radial), 7:00, 7:30
Blocks top to bottom: Esplanade followed by A to K
Center block at E between 6:30 and 7:00 shared by Alternative Energy Zone and Barbie Death Village
I recorded these images after countless hours exploring Black Rock City
to keep traces of this profound urban experiment.
These photos are the gift I received from this thriving, yet physically ephemeral community.
brc(at)philippeglade(dot)com (plz:no flames, all smiles)
This SFW blog (too bad) is a Ginormous labor of love, several hundreds of hours of work, not counting the wait at the gate and at Will Call, that I want to keep commercial-free adhering to the Decommodification principle.
All links are almost SFW (top of page 2 are not)
2014 Table of contents
5pages/400 images at the bottom of each column click older posts to access the next page
Page 1 Introduction/The Golden Rebars Award Page 2Along the Esplanade Page 3The Souk/Tents/Houses/Domes/Hexayurts/Parachutes/Trailers Page 4Camps Page 5Participants/Installations/Mutants Vehicles/My Camp
Satellites pods of the Otic Way by Gregg Fleishman, Melissa Barron and Lightning Clearwater III
Sweatin' at Distrikt
Empire of dust
Embrace by Matt Schultz and The Pier Group
Temple of Grace by David Best and crew
The retreat from Russia, Circa 1812
Ephemeral installation made with "donations" from surrounding camps.
CrossReads by Jamie Joyce
Nice way to create a neighborhood
Monday morning, I was sleeping under the stars on the cot when hail and rain woke me up.
At time, rain was heavy as were the lightnings striking the city.
I wasn't too proud under my canopy surrounded by dozens of metal poles and rebars.
Like everyone else in the city, I spent the morning looking at the puddles slowly invading my living space, walking around in trash bag covered shoes which help trek to the blue rooms.
One of these too rare moments when the city is quiet, still, calm, when the silence is only broken by a remote neighbor calling to share a warm breakfast.
That morning created numerous bonds among burners.
This might sound too much down to Earth but the most important thing at BRC beyond feathered war bonnets and the headliners list at noise dubstep camps is your shelter.
The nature of the city encourage a wide variety of living accommodations tantamount to the art installations visible on the Playa. Because there is not one answer to the numerous environmental challenges present in the Black Rock Desert, a lot of participants come up with many valuable and forward-looking solutions to accommodate life where it is impossible.
Year after year, Black Rock City organically sets itself as a unique testing ground for individual or collective structures that could be implemented in the near future for emergency relief situations.
This year, 2014 (my 18th burn),
the streets of BRC were bursting with either small or huge shelters as well as makeshift or well planned camps. It was the year of the connectors, several designers came up with metal, wood or acetate resin nodes, resulting in easy to pack and assemble structures.
The city became more than ever a vibrant laboratory for daring creators looking in different directions to solve the equation of a simply built, extremely resistant, not too expensive and easy to haul shelter.
Because they are not mentioned on any maps
I have to explore relentlessly all the streets of my dusty city in search of the diamond in the rough.
The result of this urban exploration is this blog and these Golden Rebars that, hopefully, with discernment and a bit of zaniness I award on
the merits of creativity, design and architectural breakthrough.
Philippe Glade 2014
Cloud Extrudedby Frannie Marchese
Golden Rebar for Creativity
Using cut strips of insulation panels, the same used to build hexayurts,
Frannie spent 5 days preparing her shelter that was setup on the playa in
The ubiquitous markings of the insulation panels were painted over and coded for fast installation
She even had a marine toilet connected to a grey water tank.
The Playa Painted Lady
Golden Rebar for Whimsicality
Three story high with a top deck, this house could easily be found in pre-war Vienna, Europe.
Located on the edge of the Burners Without Borders Camp,The Hundertwasser House was designed and built by John deJong of Salt Lake City.
The Pallet Palace
Golden Rebar for Reporpusing
A frame of recycled 2x4 held the walls made of used pallets
Other use of pallets
The Octopods Anomalous
by Chris Yamane and Benny Lichtner
Golden Rebar for D.I.Y
Taking on the design of a Van Brink/Lerner geometry dome, the two designers used 1/2 EMT conduit
with a double layer of canvas. They built three of these octopods for under $700.
They got extra points by being inspired by this blog, in one meeting I met half of my readers.
They sewed the fabric
The H24 by Jay Pazos
Golden Rebar for Tallest Hexayurt on Earth
Involuntary product placement, sorry
25 people could sleep inside
The Yurtheadral by Chris Maloney
Golden Rebar for an Another Shape in the Hexa Family
Made with insulation panels, it took 30 mn to a team of 5 people to erect it
Internal structure of PVC pipe for support
The Archimedes Basket by Toby Vann and Michael Gates
Golden Rebar for Concept Upgrade
The Archimedes Basket is a Tensegrity-stabilized dome created by Toby Vann and Michael Gates
who won a Blue Ribbon for this shelter at the 2013 New York World Maker Fair.
Setup and strike is under 1 hour.
In their words:
The result of our innovations is a rope and strut dome. We use the truncated icosahedron (the pattern of hexagons and pentagons on a soccer ball) as the polyhedral shape for our dome; this requires only 1/3 as many struts as a traditional geodesic dome. On their own, the struts that form a truncated icosahedron are unstable; borrowing from tensegrity we stabilize our dome with a tension web.
The double wall shading with airspace between the layers helped disperse the heat and kept the inside cool. Stars are Spandex, inner tent is spandex to have a noiseless experience when windy. The 3-parts hubs as well as the struts are just one size. Easy to assemble.
To simplify the potentially complex and time-consuming job of lacing the dome with rope, we developed a harness system for quick assembly and a hub designed for increased stability.
Below is the reason for the Golden Rebar, Toby and Michael engineered and cast a metal node making the assembly of same size struts intuitive and fast.
The tallest Archimedes Basket was the community space of their camp Things that Swings
The Prism Colony Camp
Golden Rebar for Good Vibes
Dylan from New York City, created an interlocking node with dowels to connect 1x4 pine boards.
Packable, inexpensive, although a bit labor intensive to hammer in and out the dowels, this system allows any shapes and scalability.
A sophisticated sound installation with a giant tuning fork catching wind pressure fed the custom made loudspeakers created by the artisans of Hifi Heroin.
Red Lightning Camp
Golden Rebar for Best Camp Design
This superb camp was designed and built by GuildWorks, founded by Mar C. Ricketts, who by serendipity was featured in my book (now sold-out) with his poetic installation Flight of the Future Seed in 2006.
This architect of the air also designed last year golden rebar winner for best camp design Sacred Spaces Village.
The Hexadome "Moonberry" by Flo Lauber
Golden Rebar for the velcro panels
Golden Rebar for Driftwood
Just love this type of setup, ageless, cheap and organic.
The Dhome by Michael Beneville
Golden Rebar for Prototype
The Henry Chang "Fusion" mutant car parked in front of a inflatable prototype easily deployable.
Will we see more of them next year?
I did not have consent to penetrate this yummy threshold and couldn't check out the backdoor.
The Cube by Scott Mahoney
Golden Rebar for Best New Design
Scott Mahoney modified, with his authorization, the interlocking node of Gregg Fleishman to design a connector made of Delrin able to create cubic shape instead of triangular thus a more efficient use of space.
This flat pack system as vocation beyond the limits of Black Rock City to provide a fast, stackable and expandable shelter solution in disaster stricken areas.
The Node made of Delrin
The Cube was used to build The Lost Hotel Camp that was structurally sound with 3 stories and dozens of guests. The camp came with its own plumbing system for showers and real toilets.
This experiment in communal living was on the architectural point of view worth doing:
The Cube with its Node is a very well designed shelter offering a temporary comfortable
living space that sustained the extreme conditions of the Black Rock Desert. Flat pack, light and easily assembled it is a great alternative, although not cheap, to tents or metal frame structures.
However, it is noticeable that several of these stacked-multi-units compounds would create bars, walls, canyons all along BRC streets, bringing back the smothering city feeling that we want to escape for at least a week.
It is obvious that the designers and managers of the Lost Hotel Camp reached a new level in temporary hospitality with an interesting concept that need to be wisely implemented as well with a better MOOP management.
The Lost Hotel team using its Cube system built also the living accommodations of the Caravancicle Camp just next door.
Because this blog is about architecture and I am not that smart, I will leave the conversation about these camps here and here
Managed by Ari Derfel, Caravancicle Camp offered an all-inclusive experience to affluent deciders and Powerball winners who enjoyed a level of sophistication never seen before at BRC.
It took the teams of The Lost Hotel and of LMNOP 5 people working for 7 days 18h/day to complete this pushing the envelope of refinement camp.
It is rumored that clients of this type of camps, so enlightened by their life-changing-experience, back to the Default world, crisscross it, barefoot in burlap outfits, bawling with rolled-back eyes the 10 principles.
Sculpture "Home" by Michael Christian
Inside the 50 feet dome, designed by the team of LMNOP conducted by Tyler Pew
the "Heaven" part with the "Purgatory", the bar with a DJ booth at the top.
Heaven isn't? where are my curvy angels?
The courtyard with some of the 50 cubes
Portable A/C and elevated queen size bed with storage space underneath
If it is yellow, let it mellow.
Next year placement map?
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