Burning Man Festival | Bismuth Bivouac

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Inspired by the geometry from the crystalline growth pattern of the element Bismuth (Bi), the Bismuth Bivouac is a playful pavilion that celebrates the orthogonal geometries that can exist in natural Bismuth crystals to form an intriguing cubic structure, with spiralling disruptions on each face that are governed by the golden ratio. From a distance, the structure appears as a seemingly solid cube, but upon closer inspection, the internal spaces can be explored and utilised.The beautiful iridescent colours of crystal are to be translated into the proposal through coloured LED strip lighting, built into the simple dimensional lumber structure of the pavilion, so at night the Bismuth Bivouac gives has the same visually mesmerizing, colourful effect of the bismuth crystals in nature. The project aims to play with the participants perception of depth and scale in this mirroring structure – from afar, the structure will appear as a dense cube that sits on the playa, but as the participants move towards the structure, they will begin to be able to see through parts of the structure due to the stepped nature of the geometry and holes formed from spiral disruptions. The structure provides sheltered from harsh desert sun, but also provides a plaything for the sun to casts its shadows during the day, and for people to cast their own shadows with their own illuminations at night.













Bismuth Crystal Growth

A crystal is a solid material whos atomic structure is arranged in an ordered and structured lattice system. The bismuth crystal, when melted into a liquid state and allowed to cool in specific conditions can form intricate patterns and geometries.

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Physically producing bismuth crystals:

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The intial exploration was to create a digital parametric definition to mimic the rules that the growth follows. Looking at the shapes that are formed in growing a digital ‘crystal’ in one direction (linear), two directions (planar) and three directions (cubic). However, in the physical crystals that are formed, there are disruptions caused by different factors (heat, movement, etc) that alter the crystallization process that cause changes in the regularity of the final geometry.

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One such disruption is known as a  screw dislocation, which causes the crystal to grow in an orthogonal spiral that follows the golden ratio. These forms are developed and explored, to begin forming a habitable space from these geometries.

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Hopper Crystals

Bismuth Crystal

A hopper crystal is a distinctive growth pattern that occurs in certain natural elements, including Bismuth, Galena, Gold, and Halite (salt). Hoppering occurs when electrical attraction is higher along the edges of the crystal, this causes faster growth at the edges than near the face centers. This attraction draws the mineral molecules more strongly than the interior sections of the crystal, thus the edges develop more quickly. This results in what appears to be a hollowed out step lattice formation, as if someone had removed interior sections of the individual crystals.

For Bismuth, the variations in the thickness of the oxide layer that forms on the surface of the crystal causes different wavelengths of light to interfere upon reflection, thus displaying a rainbow of colors. The spiral, stair-stepped structure of bismuth crystals is the result of a higher growth rate around the outside edges than on the inside edges.