, Burning Man
, Interactive Structures
, Natural Systems
, Will Garforth-Bles
Lotus Hypars – A study of hyperbolic bamboo structures
The Lotus Hypars symbolise the “Caravansary” trading centre. The structure is assembled as the centre for exchange after journeying across land and water to a resting point, Burning Man. Hammocks offer a space for the festivals unique style of trading to be discussed and carried out. The tangible nature of the Lotus also creates a playfulness in an otherwise formal system of resources exchange. The lightweight structure evolves from the horizontal lines of the desert and forms a hyperbolic shelter. The user can inhabit not only underneath the structure, but also the petal shaped hammocks. Here, individuals can exchange stories, supplies and treasures.
In Buddhism, the Lotus flower is symbolic of fortune. It grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower’s first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment. The Lotus Hypar story has evolved from the same principles. In the harsh desert environment, man can create beauty. The folded geometries are playfully excited by human participation. A twist, a fold and a push.
The structure is assembled using bamboo sticks that are arranged in a reciprocal formation. These canes are then bound using high strength elastic bands. This allows for the flat cells to twist and take on new shapes. The Lotus Hypar is formed by a repetitive series of folds and the result forms petals. These are symbolic of the Lotus flower. The cells are covered with a white semi-elastic membrane that adds to the strength of the structure and the petal geometries become more visible. These are also the hammocks that can be inhabited by the Burning Man users.
In order to test the structural performance of the proposal, I constructed a series of 1:1 scale models. This was done using 6m and 3m bamboo canes (35mm diameter). By testing a small segment of the full proposal, it is easier to determine the success of the final proposal.
Cosmic streams celebrates water in a harsh, dry environment. Water is essential to life. It is precious and for that, we should celebrate it. Burning Man offers an environment that enhances its profound importance to us. For me, it is really about appreciating water, and that is why it has become the main building material. The key form for the proposal is created by glowing streams of water.
The glowing water will induce play and allow people to interact with the water. The installation can be used for washing, cooling off or just relaxing and observing.
The form for the design was conceived by my interest in liquids and how we can manipulate them. I began with a study of fluid properties. I looked at everyday uses and how we use liquids. To develop the idea of fluid form making further patterns, I began to investigate ferrofluid. This liquid can be forced into new patterns and structures by using magnetic fields. When a magnet field is brought close to the liquid, an array of spikes is formed. The position of these spikes is determined by a series of streamlines (a series of invisible magnetic field vectors). It is these streamlines that have defined the form of the installation.
Glowing water is the interactive part of this piece. The water and light are combined to evoke play to passers by. These streams of fluid are tactile and create habitable spaces beneath.
To a passer by, it resembles a series of glowing arcs with an aura around it. As the installation is approached, it is clear to see that there are a number of spaces within these arcs. Intrigued, the user can experiment with these spaces. Some spaces offer a chance to relax and watch streams of bright liquid pass over you without being touched by the jets.
The base of the proposal has shallow contours and, over the period of a week, will become covered in sand and dust concealing the base. When the pumps are switched on, it will appear that liquid is emerging from the desert floor.
The installations is highly interactive. There are spaces for people to people to engage with fluids in a number of different ways. The images below show the three typologies.
Sequence of drawings showing flow emerging from the base. All stages are developed with RealFlow.