Tuesday, November 3, 2015

-––––––––––– Black Rock City 2015 ––––––––––––

Black Rock Desert 

70 000 Participants

Center Camp - The Man - The Temple


Alto Lenticular Clouds




Welcome Home

The City

Storm Watchers



 2015 was a blast
With weeklong gale-force winds blowing tons of dust with almost freezing nights, finally we had some desert weather after years of French Riviera vanilla.

In such conditions everybody was pushed to the limit; burgins, newbies,
3 years-burners-know-it all, veterans, old timers, everyone had to physically and mentally regroup at some point.
The structural integrity of numerous shelters was challenged while new but well-crafted structures passed with flying colors. Black Rock City deserves to welcome the Festival of the Extreme Habitat.

Music noise coming from large-scale sound camps: no comment, see rant somewhere in the blog.
Sometimes magic strikes with mobile sound systems: Abraxas (thursday morning, the epiphany), Kalliope, Robot Heart...

People wearing feathered war bonnets, didn't they get the memo? It is offensive, déjà vu, faux pas and produce MOOP.

As usual the city was host of the best and biggest art installations festival of the world, special kudos to the Airpusher mutant vehicle, Camp Do more Now sphere, The Firmament, The Mars-1 Molecules, The Totem of Confessions, the Temple...

I already cannot wait for my 20th participation next year.

2015 Table of contents

4 pages/330 images  at the bottom of each column click older posts to access the next page

Page 1  Introduction/The Golden Rebars Awards
Page 2  Camping in Style or not
Page 3  Camps and Installations
Page 4  Participants/Abstract/Me and my camp

you will find links going back as far as 1996.

Camps or installations misnamed? contact me:
brc(at)philippeglade(dot)com (plz:no flames, all smiles)

This blog is a Ginormous labor of love, made over several hundreds hours of work, not counting the wait at the gate, that I want to keep commercial-free adhering to the Decommodification principle, to keep it this way you can participate.

All links are almost SFW

The soundtrack loop for the making of this blog Art of Chill  Solar Fields 1,2,3,4,5, Apollo, and of course Theme for Great Cities

Black Rock City, NV  The New Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man

The 1100 copies of the first edition titled The Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man published in 2011, covering 15 years of Black Rock desert camping, are sold out for quite some time.

A strict reprinting as is, was out of the question, like a Burning Man installation realized in self -reliance, it had just one life, what is done is done, move on, c'est la vie!

Nevertheless, pressured by friends and "bookless" burners, the project of a brand new version covering the years 2011 to 2015 with the same theme and same angle but with skilled experts/writers combined with a professional book designer slowly took shape. 

After two years of editing and fine tuning, a tight and helpful book showing a broad spectrum of living solutions in the desert is scheduled for a mid-2016 release: 
Black Rock City, NV  The New Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man

If you desire to participate in the final stage of this project or just be among the happy few to share this new limited edition with your campmates at BRC 2016, please contact me at: 

And now without further ado:

The Golden Rebars 2015 Awards

After two month of seclusion in an undisclosed location with only VHS tapes of 2 Days in New York and The Wedding Ringer for sole entertainment, the toddling jury of the Golden Rebars Award reached a verdict that will spark year-long conversations in the fervent world of desert camping.

Disclaimer for the 12 readers and counting of this blog: given the ever-changing weather pattern combined to the ebb and flow of participants, it is impossible to see the entirety of shelters and dwellings, visit all the camps and villages that dot the city. We spared no effort to bike and walk all the streets back and forth from 2:00 to 10:00, A to L, for two weeks documenting this urban phenomenon. We missed some very interesting structures that can be found on Christina Nellemann's  blog.  

"Only at Black Rock City" Golden Rebar for
Camp Porta Party

Only this video explains the choice of the jury.
It is very SFW and you might even crack a smile.

"Theme Camp" Golden Rebar goes to 
Camp Suburbia

The usual purpose of coming to Black Rock City is to escape the day-to-day grind of the city, eschew homogenization and look at a brand new landscape. Some burners from Seattle, Portland and Bend  thinking out of the box brought to the vast expanse of the desert a colorful touch of normality.

Complete with the lawnmowers, garages, mailboxes, satellite dishes and the open trench waiting for DPW to come fix the sewer leak, this village of 8 houses built with frames and plywood panels was inhabited by an entertaining group of anything but bored suburbanites.

"He grow his House" Golden Rebar for 
Camp Club Bamboozed 

Steve Martinez used bamboos growing in his yard to build this camp with his friends.

Detail of the center mast with bamboo trusses.

"Badass Name for a Camp" Golden Rebar 
goes of course to 
Badass Buddha Camp

Not too vulgar yet enough to be censored on Fox News, it has twice two syllables with a nice alliteration verging on vegan mantra.

"Structural Upgrade" Golden Rebar goes to Figjam

Popularized thanks to the research and feedbacks of FIGJAM, a knowledgeable burner on numerous ePlaya threads, a 1/2"X18 or 3/8"X14 lag screw with 2 round links of chain drilled vertically in the playa with an impact driver, anchors a one-level shelter faster and safer than the time tested rebars. 

Anyone interested in this technique must read this thread. Apparently a lot of participants did it, this year it was the anchor of choice in many places.

This is my closest neighbor windward anchor for his classic EMT metal frame shade. It endured a week of unrelenting winds without moving a centimeter. As for my shade anchored with 22 angled rebars that took 90 min to pound in, some were loose with 2 ready to pop out something that never happened before, thanks to these years of French Riviera weather.
My neighbor anchored his camp in 5 min.

Should I rename my award The Golden Screw?

"Shade as Art" Golden Rebar
 for the Canopy of Sacred Spaces Village 
Temple of Divine Reflections
created by Jason Pugh

"Design Breakthrough" Golden Rebar for 
Camp Naked Heart

David Braun, designer and manager of Camp Naked Heart found a solution to the perennial inconvenience of using a parachute for shelter that, primarily designed to catch air, blows like a balloon, takes off or shreds to pieces in a windstorm. 
Cutting holes in it is not very elegant nor is the constant billowing of a noisy parachute in the direct vicinity of your camp.

To shelter 80 participants David Braun used a 100 ft/ 30 m diameter parachute pegged low on the ground at every guy line, roughly a hundred, and tensioned the fabric with 8 orderly spaced irrigation pipes for angled pillars. 
This taut aerodynamic shape defeated the numerous sustained gales wreaking havoc the city.

Most surprising is that the center mast doesn't support the parachute, it holds a tall fabric conduit helping the hot air convection.

Enough room for 80 participants with tents 

Pillar made of irrigation pipe

Each contact point is reinforced with several layers of nylon.

To tension the parachute and limit the sway, a ratchet strap connects the tip of each pillar to the playa.

The back of Naked Heart Camp

"Cuttiest Monkey Hut" Golden Rebar for 
Camp Crochet

Usually "cute" and "monkey hut" are not mentioned in the same sentence.

Not to downplay their ease to set up, the amount of shade they provide, their low cost and their overall good behavior in storms but with their grey tarp they look really drab.
We had to reward the efforts of this skilled burner who spent time to crochet his/her monkey to make Black Rock City a tender place.
The wild cat is also crochet.

"Please Wrap Me Up" Golden Rebar goes to this RV

If only all RV's parked at Black Rock City could be wrapped like this one!
Notice the wood window frames.

"Hexa Mutation" Golden Rebar for
The Little Red Barn Camp

Fourth year burner, Sarah McElroy wanted to use her artistic flair to design a shelter derived from her experience of building hexayurts. She took a leap of faith with her idea of bringing the homey feeling
of a traditional rural barn for the first time on the playa. 

She made a 1:12 scale model out of bristol paper at home and started working on dimensions, angles, load bearing for the roof and how it would fold. In its final stage, it folded up into 5 pre-taped sections and is made of 12 traditional hexayurt insulation panels. 

A neighbor helped Sarah and her partner with the large roof piece, being that they were two 4'x12, panels and extremely hard to control 8' high in the air with the wind picking up.

Designed for two people at 12' long, 8' wide and 8' high, it is appreciable to stand up in every part of the structure. Both of the front doors were fully functional, making it easy to load gear in or out. Two windows in the top front and back were cut and fitted with air filters for some air circulation and light. 

Even with the headwinds blowing right on the doors, it held up great in the storms.

"Pop-up Tent of the Year" Golden Rebar for
 The Shiftpod

The most talked about tent went viral from 1 last year to nearly 400 of them this year on the playa. 

This space-age looking adult size tent 6.5ft/2m high was designed by BRC veteran Christian W, leader of Shift camp, with burners needs in mind and adapted to the peculiar weather pattern of the city.

Fast to set up and take down the strong pop-up frame associated with reinforced corners resisted the fierce 2015 storms, floor and doors have large zippers, the three-layer UV-reflective nylon fabric helped sleep in and without mesh minimized dust invasion. 
Most of the campers interviewed were satisfied but some advised for an overhead shade or the easy addition of A/C with the provided vents to achieve Hexayurt cool. 

This well though out Shiftpod is a great addition to the small family of desert proof shelters. 
With Christian W willingness to improve this product through owners feedback, soon it could be as popular as the ubiquitous canvas Springbar and Kodiak tents in the same price range.

Large enough to really accommodate two campers, a queen-size bed can fit in.
The portal windows have removable covers and the air vents can be closed to prevent dust in.

We are at Mayan Warrior camp not on the moon

"Bohemian Yurt" Golden Rebar for
Camp Storytelling

D.I.Y shelter made with repurposed PVC pipes, this camp showcases the soul of the city.
Blueprint and gear here

"Tiny House on Wheels" Golden Rebar

"Simplicity and Tensegrity" Golden Rebar for 
The Bra
at Camp Animal Control

Camp designer/manager René Raphael used a large sail, four free standing poles and ropes to create a stable and welcoming shade called the Bra (an hommage to Jean-Paul Gaultier's contribution to Madonna's looks?) with in the background the whimsical Whitch's hat shower stall.

"Sculptural Tensegrity" Golden Rebar for Camp Café Diem

May be inspired by a Kenneth Snelson's Tower, the creator of camp Café Diem built the supporting mast of his parachute shade in tensegrity fashion, an instant conversation piece. Easy to pack and store, it withstood the storms like a charm. 

Camp Café Diem

"Grey is not an Option" Golden Rebar 

Shower apparatus and grey water treatment are challenging issues for every participants because
grey water has to be brought back or evaporated with evaporating ponds which are real eyesores.
This camp found a creative and colorful solution by using multiple layers of a checkerboard fabric to
filter and evaporate the water coming from the shower stall.

Golden Rebar for "Best Vibes of the Year" goes to
  Camp Gong Vibes 

After a weeklong of relentless Guantanamo style bad aggro music noise brutalized by wannabe DJs, 
I randomly stumbled upon Judy Strauss and her assistant performing an hourlong gong bath
From whispers to sonic caresses climaxing in thunders, that was the awesomest sonic experience I to share with a hundred people that rose with huge smiles, teary eyes and their chakras re-aligned.
Gong at Pompei

"The Future has landed" Golden Rebar goes to
Dhomain by Michael Beneville

Designer Michael Beneville created dhomain, a rapidly deployable multi-purpose space with all the amenities of modern living. This blow-up temporary house uses constant positive air pressure to shape the living space in a 9 ft high dome while permanently inflated beams keep the structural integrity of the shelter should its skin be punctured. 

Inside, a core made of modular panels, contains a functional kitchen, a toilet, a shower stall and a closet. The structural and technical hub with A/C and a pipes network partitions the entire area of 300 sq ft/28 m2 in a bedroom with a queen size bed and a living room with couch and coffee table.
When the skin and beams are deflated and packed around the core, 8 of them fit on a flatbed truck to be dispatched for emergency shelters under any climate.

Of course, this fantastic forward-looking temporary habitat with such accommodations is not for the average burner but Black Rock City is an all-embracing community where everyone as long as they participate are welcomed.
Michael Beneville with dhomain responded to an understandable quest of well-being in a creative and innovative way that broadens the field of the ephemeral architecture.

7 dhomains were part of the very friendly and open Camp Psyclone.

The living room of Michael Beneville dhomain.

The core/hub with the kitchen with oven, micro wave, hot plate and fridge.

The other side of the core/hub with shelves and closet, behind the left panel there is the shower stall.

The bedroom in the Michael Beneville dhomain.
I was so exhausted at that moment, really, looking at the bed made realized that I needed to upgrade my camp (visible at the end of the last 2015 pages).

"Buckminster Fuller" Golden Rebar 
for Camp Sextant 
by Torrey"Sarge"Smith

For  a second year in a row Camp Sextant was on the Esplanade with its Tesla Coil and a Zipline 
attached at the top of a crow's nest on top of a tower on top of a dome!
Designed, manufactured and built by Torrey"Sarge"Smith this is a feat of engineering.

The dome, a 3V 5/9 Kruschke, is 16 ft high with the tower apex and Zip-Line takeoff 48 ft up.
The crow's nest  railing is at 52 ft. 
The nest capacity is 5 people while the Vunderbar placed above the dome in the tower base can host 25 people.

Needless to say each struts of the structure is carefully made out of 4130 Structural Steel, a low alloy steel used for aircraft engine mounts. This is NOT EMT. 

Torrey"Sarge"Smith anneals the ends for added strength before flattening them with an industrial press brake. Holes are water jet cut, the full-round ends are closed with TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) Welding with inserted sleeves into the holes to isolate the inside of tubes from the elements.
All the struts are 1.125" diameter tubes with 0.0625" wall. They are sandblasted, corrosion treated and powder coated white.

Torrey"Sarge"Smith made several step-by-step videos, a must-see for any dome builders.

For 2016 Torrey"Sarge"Smith plans to go much higher!

"New Shape" Golden Rebar for
 the Rhombi by Gregg Fleishman

To house their 20" telescope at the Black Rock Observatory, the Desert Wizards of Mars conducted by "Major Tom"Varden asked architect/artist/visionary Gregg Fleishman to build an open sky planetarium.
Gregg, the 2013 Temple and Otic Oasis designer, came up with a brand new structure shaped as a 
rhombicuboctahedron that I will shorten for obvious reason to the "Rhombi".

Made of 14 ply Latvian Birch CNC milled interlocking wood pieces, this octahedral dome flat packs and sets up without screws or fasteners using only slots and notches to connect all the parts.

 "Jules Verne" Golden Rebar goes to
 Scott Parenteau

Not only busy participating in the construction of the Black Rock Observatory, Scott Parenteau
already a Golden Rebar recipient in 2013 with his metal pods, brought to the playa his latest creation,
the smallest 2-person shelter in the world.

During the day in its vertical position it is a kitchen with a shower head and storage, at night using the gears fashioned by Scott, the pod goes in horizontal position where with added plywood panels the unit transforms in a 2 person bedroom with a skylight looking at the milky way.

A view of the kitchen/bathroom with stainless steel sink

The pod in nighttime position, the flexible conduit carries utility cables for water and electricity.

Made by Scott Parenteau

"Burner in Wonderland" Golden Rebar for the
Hundertwasserhaus of John deJong

Long time burner John deJong wanted to participate with an abode of his own that would be easy to setup and take down. 
An admirer of the iconoclastic architecture of Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000) John built a free standing Black Rock City landmark with three stories made of interlocking plywood panels that albeit quirky looking sustained without problem the fierce winds sweeping relentlessly the playa.

John's wife at the window

 "High" Golden Rebar for Camp Panorama

With a structure made of modular aluminum trusses camp Panorama offered after an exhausting ascent a comfortable platform to enjoy the city up in the air.
A good example of interactive camp by nature.

"Reusable" Golden Rebar for the 
Mini Homes of Clifton Jaeger

Architect Clifton Jaeger for the guests of camp Psyclone assembled insulation panels in the shape of mini homes. The steel corner beads on the edges ease the set up and strike process, allowing to reuse them later on without tearing off the reflective layer and rigidify the overall structure. 

Windows and doors are framed with the corner beads making them more functional.

"Home Improvement"  Golden Rebar for the 
Space Hole Camp

Because team members of Camp Space Hole wanted to offer a chill spot open to anyone, they built a tall Monkey Hut as a communal space with a misting system. Boldly, for the outer skin, instead of a drab grey tarp, they chose to apply rolls of attic radiant barrier, a highly reflective material used to insulate roofs. To minimize efforts they taped together, on the inside with bi-filament tape and on the outside with aluminum tape, large 5 ft wide strips of the perforated material that let the moisture pass through.

This material lasted the entire week and behaved well during the numerous storms. 

That day was a hot day and inside the misting space it was chilly, without a sweater I was shivering.

The kitchen space in the second Monkey Hut with the same radiant barrier foil.
Notice the the shelves organization, they had a shower stall with shower head just behind.

The third space, sleeping area with Aluminet shade.

"Je suis en terrasse à Paris" Golden Rebar for
 Camp Surprise

Superb mural, trompe l'oeil, for Camp Surprise, a Canadian team that offered French fries and full meals without the attitude.

This corner is not for Maurice Chevalier fans

Personnel  if you have only one link to listen to
J'ai vu (not SFW)
Mon Pays

"Glamping" Golden Rebar for 
Camp Cirque Gitane

By a unanimous vote, this year winner

The interactive part of the camp

Susan/Janet slept in one of them

And finally the Golden Rebar for 
"A Man with Big Balls" 
goes to John Oliver who encapsulate 
my recent feelings

Bonus Golden Rebar goes to a burner who 
made this happen,
I want to go into space and beyond
Blue Origin Flight


You've reached the bottom of page 1, Bravo! 
I hope you enjoyed seeing parts of our/your/my city,
 there are 3 more pages  without dust. 

Bottom right of this column click Older Posts to see 
Camping in style or not, Installations and stuff.