Hive Plan‘Hive’ is a time-based installation for Burning Man Festival, focusing on the principle of individuality and an assemblage of many parts. The concept reflects an inhabitable cellular hive shaped network derived from the formation of hexagonal convection cells. The sculpture is a progression through the life of convection cells -a phenomenon which is visible when mark-particles are added to a solution on low heat- the resulting structure is reminiscent of the hexagonal cells of a beehive. The formulation and transition of the many parts allow a playful visual experience and participation. The Hive acts as a shelter and altar to the sun. ‘Hive’ occupies the space where our ‘earth-bound bodies root in the dust’, gathering together.

Hive Perspective
In daylight the installation appears unified and porous, the interior spaces offer multiple external views and ambiances, communicating to installations nearby. The openings within the surface allow movement and motion of visitors and the light from the interior spaces to be exposed, animating the installations exterior space.

Hive Interior
Situated within its spiritual environment of the site, the project is also a gesture of terrains in the Black Rock Desert. The form of the installation allows light, views and the external and internal worlds to invade one another. The structure is made from CNC-cut plywood sheet layers creating a natural exterior and colorful interior. The vertical orientated hive cell-like surfaces, formed by a structural lattice are creating an environment allowing inhabitants to move through the space, climb, explore, gather, or tranquil between the formed spaces.

Hive Night
At night and during the dark veil of the desert lights, the structure illuminates with many point light sources forming a new network of engagement which glances through the inner structure. Hive would be lit with solar powered point lights through the interior, creating the glowing effect of a traditional lantern. During the day, the surface will appear to shimmer in sunlight.

‘Hive’ is 10′ x 16′ x 20′ long, CNC cut plywood sculpture. The installation can be split into two halves (4ft x 4ft x 20ft) and these parts can be modified according to the new site by adding or removing the number of layers along its length. Hive’s materials would consist of 4ft x 8ft standard/shuttering/recycled plywood sheets 5/8 inch thick. The negatives of the CNC cut layers would be used to create the spacers in between the layers and any residual material would be donated/recycled to a used building materials dealers.

Convection Cells Experiment

The regular hexagonal pattern of convection cells is created when a thin sheet of viscous oil is heated uniformly from below. A small amount of aluminium is added to the oil to reveal the pattern of convection, an experiment first conducted by Henri Bénard, a French physicist, in 1900.

The convection cell phenomenon is only visible when you add mark-particles. The following experiments were filmed with a blue filter on the camera so that the aluminium particles become clearly visible.

My videos below demonstrate the nonlinear self-organisation of the convection cells a few seconds after stirring.

The movement is the upwelling of warmer liquid from the heated bottom layer. This upwelling spontaneously organises into a regular pattern of cells on low heat.

As the temperature increases, the cells’ pattern becomes more irregular and the speed of the moving particles increases as shown in the videos:

In order to follow the trajectories of the mark-particles I took long exposure photos shown below:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Virtual Revolution

It has been recently reported that Google has launched a new unified privacy policy which took effect March 1st. All data already collected about you, including search queries, sites visited, age, gender and location will be gathered and assigned to your online identity represented by your Gmail and YouTube accounts. Now that the policy has taken effect you are not allowed to opt out without abandoning Google altogether. Before the policy took effect, you had the option of deleting your Google Web History by modifying your settings so that Google is unable to associate data collected about you with your Gmail or YouTube accounts.

A break-down of how Google tracks us and alternative search engine:

There is a plugin that lets you keep your opt-out status for this browser even when you clear all cookies: Cookie Opt-out Plugin

Here is an article on ‘The Deep Web‘, which is currently ‘400 to 550 times larger than the commonly defined world wide web’. It’s supposedly the deep web that is the fastest growing category of new information on the internet and the internet searches we make are searching only 0.03% of the total web pages available.

An important documentary series, The Virtual Revolution, first shown on the BBC June 2010, explores how the Internet is molding almost every aspect of our lives and what is really going on behind this reshaping.

Marshall McLuhan, author of Understanding Media: The extensions of Man, saw that in the long run a medium’s content matters less than the medium itself in influencing how we think and act. ‘As our window onto the world, and onto ourselves, a popular medium molds what we see and how we see it and eventually, if we use it enough, it changes who we are, as individuals and as a society.’

Below is a 3D visualisation of the Experian Hitwise Network Map of internet usage in the UK September 2009. It illustrates how traffic flows between 30 of the top websites in the UK. The size of the bubble represents the website’s share of Internet visits (so Facebook and Google UK have the biggest bubbles), while the lines illustrate the amount of traffic moving between the sites (using their clickstream data).

More information and discussions/talks:


In reference to economy of materials, rapid deployment, self sufficiency, interactivity and leave no trace aspects of the ten day Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert I have explored vacuumatically prestressed structures (vacuumatics) to create a temporary structure.

Using minimal materials, a Balloonwrap cloud would encourage maximum participation during the construction and throughout the festival. An ephemeral soft cloud like landscape, where participants delight in modifying the shape as well as being able to interact with the structure by lying down, dancing on, climbing and sitting inside the enclosure.

As documented in the film above, Balloonwrap is a vacuumatic structure made using Polythene sheets at 63 microns, 5m x 3.65m, with balloons as the filling. A large scale model here is made rigid enough to span gaps, flexible enough to bend back on itself and strong enough to act as a seat or even a bed.

The material could therefore be used as the floor, wall, roof and seating elements in a continuous loop for any installation with the added benefit that it would have good thermal insulation as well as solar reflective potential (using silver/white reflective balloons/opaque film).

The main advantages of Balloonwrap are form flexibility and adaptability. An important factor that determines its adaptability is the flexibility control. Without any negative pressure (0% vacuum) the balloons inside the polythene enclosure possess hardly any consistency and are able to flow freely inside this skin. By increasing the amount of vacuum pressure the consistency of the balloons gradually increases, resulting in a more or less plastic behaviour of the structure. This enables the structure to be shaped while keeping its newly given form. Finally, in fully deflated state (100% vacuum) the Balloonwrap becomes rigid, with balloons used as a filling in my experiments, it is possible to climb the rigid load-bearing structure and sit comfortably! The reversibility of this rigidifying process enables the Balloonwrap to be re-shaped all over again.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

3D Fractals

Tom Beddard, Physicist, Animator and Web Developer, explores the relatively new field of 3D fractals. By writing his own software to render new sets of mathematical algorithms that generate 3D structures with unlimited detail. He investigates the resulting wide range of structures ranging from the natural and organic to geometric and artificial, appearing from purely mathematical space.

A collaborative effort on developing 3D fractal algorithms on fractal forums has enabled many programmers to start exploring this new field; free web software generates interactive 3D fractals in real time.

Generating fractal images is more like exploration than design and Tom Beddard explores an entire ‘fractal planet’ shown in the videos below. More information at SubBlue.

Above: Raytraced 3D fractals using Pixel Bender

Radiolaria Pavilion

Andrea Morgante, founder of Shiro Studio, collaborated with D-Shape in 2008 to produce the Radiolaria pavilion, a free-form structure created using the world’s largest 3D printer. Measuring 3 x 3 x 3 metres, the structure is a scale model of a final 10 metre tall pavilion currently being fabricated in Pontedera, Italy. The aim of the Radiolaria pavilion was to demonstrate the capabilities of this pioneering construction technology through complex geometry. It allows free-form construction of monolithic structures on a large scale.

Ernst Haeckel’s studies on radiolarians were a source of inspiration; their evolutionary formation process of mineral and siliceous skeletons share an affinity with the way that the mega-printer operates, through the slow deposition of mineral and siliceous material, layer after layer.

The thin layers of the structure are held together by an inorganic binder, which transforms any kind of sand or marble dust into a stone-like material (i.e. a mineral with microcrystalline characteristics) with a resistance and traction superior to portland cement, to a point where there is no need to use iron to reinforce the structure.  The structure was designed using CAD/CAM software and then exported directly to the printer. Once printed, it only takes about 24 hours for the material to fully set. The process is also environmentally sound, if any of the building material remains unused, it can be recycled.

Above: Radiolaria Pavilion Printed scale model sandstone structure

Above: 3D Printer – Individual layers of sandstone being printed to form pavilion