Monday, October 27, 2014


Read before Flaming

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 Extruded by 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 
2 hours. 

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

Great rack

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.
We call our invention the Archimedes Basket

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.

Family connection

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

Camp Reiki

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

The soap trays were made by the LH team.

Caravancicle Camp 

Golden Rebar for Glamping

Welcome to the Pleasuredome

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

The Showers

The Toilet
If it is yellow, let it mellow.
Next year placement map?

The rides

Bottom line


You've reached the bottom of page 1, it's time 
to replenish your beverage with electrolytes,
 there are  4 more pages  to visit. 

At the bottom right of this column click Older Posts to see the Esplanade 2014, more camps and stuff.                        


Unknown said...

Philippe, Thanks so much for the honors! If you would like to know more about Archimedes Design please look for us at:

Scott's Story said...

Thanks Philippe! to see all the behind the scenes.

tinyyellowteardrop said...

Hello Philippe! This is Christina, your neighbor from this year. Sorry that we missed you when we left. We left a note in your mailbox. :-) Great job on the awards and thanks for awarding the Pallet Palace. They were great and gave me a piece of bacon. Woot!

Greta Belanger deJong said...

Hello Philippe! The Hundertwasser House (the whimsical one) was designed and built by John deJong of Salt Lake City. He is camp architect for Burners Without Borders. Thank you for this blog ~ it is brilliant. And John says thank you for the recognition!

Kade said...

Thank you so much. I am only a third year burner and have concentrated my skill set on my jewelry gifts ( I am a professional designer/jeweler) (I am featured in the upcoming Jewelry on the Playa book). That being said I have started turning my eyes towards my camp and now want to step up to the plate!!. CAN'T WAIT! Now I realize (thanks to you) that I have miles to go before I sleep!