Buckminster Fuller

Final Day Render


Entwine is a timber frame structure which has been developed through rigorous physical and digital testing to ensure a safe climbing frame for all to enjoy. When exploring Entwine, the vast expanse of the playa is framed through beautiful intertwining curved plywood beams. Burners can view the event from glorious vantage points nestled amidst multiple communal spaces that encourage interaction and play.

The structure predominantly consists of strips of curved plywood which have been connected together using pioneering construction techniques, specifically the utilisation of conflicting forces, similar to those apparent in ‘Tensegrital’ design. Drawing inspiration from Leonardo Da Vinci and his various experimentations with physical form, ‘Entwine’ is a marvel of geometry. The piece is formed from an arrangement of 19 octahedral components, each consisting of six beams, which are paired and positioned upon one of three axis. These three elements represent the unity of man, nature and the universe that surrounds us.

Close up Render.jpgFinal Close Up RenderFINAL Night Render

Each modular component is tessellated to form an octahedral space frame structure. The rigidity resulting from this tessellation is in direct contrast to the curving structural beams which exude an organic aesthetic. As Burners view Entwine from different aspects, a remarkable array of different patterns and forms are revealed, many bearing resemblance to sacred geometry, specifically the Flower of Life, which was a significant study within Leonardo Da Vinci’s work.


Entwine is unorthodox in its composition, and this is a contributing factor to what makes it so unique: Each module is constructed through tensioning layers of ¼ inch thick plywood, which are then mechanically fixed together when a desired radius has been reached. By laminating the plywood in this manner, each component retains its curvature but remains in compression. These conflicting forces are integral to the design of Entwine: Each octahedral module is constructed from these compressed plywood elements, and are held together with tensioning ropes creating a structure of isolated components in compression within a net of continuous tension.MODEL PHOTOGRAPHSMODEL PHOTOGRAPHS 2The form of the structure is based on the octahedron, which is a Platonic solid composed of eight equilateral triangles; four of which meet at each vertex. One of the eight triangles acts as a base for the structure. This results in one edge creating a small cantilever, whilst the counter edge can be anchored to the ground. As previously studied by Buckminster Fuller, the geometry of an octahedron is particularly good at forming space frames with a strong cantilevers.


Entwine Construction Proposal

The participatory aspect of the installation voids the role of the ‘spectator’ and creates more active engagement. In many of Leonardo Da Vinci’s paintings, his subjects are framed by surreal, dreamlike landscapes. This is reflected within Entwine: As Burners become part of the installation, they are framed by the awe inspiring backdrop of Black Rock Desert: In many ways Entwine becomes the artist, the playa the canvas, and Burners the subjects.

“the artist is not a special sort of person, but every person is a special sort of artist.”

This is not only true in the sense of physical involvement but during the construction the ‘spectator’ becomes involved in making strategic decisions in the realisation of the work of art. The development, design and construction of the project embodies the principles of self-reliance and self-expression, whilst a proposal that is safe, interactive and beautiful will be gifted to the community at Burning Man.

Entwine’s curving form will be illuminated using LED spot lights to enhance the organic patterning existent within the structure. This allows the full form of the structure to be fully visible.

Tensegrity structure or also known as tensional integrity, a portmanteau term that was coined by Buckminster Fuller in the 1960s. It is a structural principle which is based on the use of detached components in compression inside a net of continuous tension.It is also known as “floating compression”, a term that was promoted by Kenneth Snelson. Each compressed members such as struts or bars do not touch among another and the prestressed tensioned members , tendons or cables for example, define the system spatially. Snelson defines tensegrity as a closed structural system composed of a set of three or more elongate compression struts within a network of tension tendons, the combined parts mutually supportive in such a way that the struts do not touch one another, but press outwardly against nodal points in the tension network to form a firm, triangulated, prestressed, tension and compression unit. Triangulated network are stronger and even more firm, if compared to non-triangulated network. 

Basic tensegrity structure made up a tower. Photo courtesy to LiftArchitects

Basic tensegrity structure made up a tower. Photo courtesy to LiftArchitects

Precedent project  by students of Ball State University

Precedent project by students of Ball State University


Biotensegrity, is a term coined by Dr. Stephen Levin, is the application of tensegrity principles to biologic structures.Harvard physicians and scientist Donald Ingber has developed a theory of tensegrity in molecular biology to explain cellular structure.The shape of cells are all can be mathematically modelled if a tensegrity model is used for cell’s cytoskeleton. Cytoskeleton is a network of fivers composed of proteins contained within a cell’s cytoplasm, which is dynamic structure, parts of which are constantly destroyed, renewed or newly constructed.



The study of tensegrity structure started through geometric remodeling the tensegrity model using digital softwares, to understand the deployability of the system . The basic form of tensegrity is being explored through addition of struts in the cell modules . The basic cell module is then are combined according to geometry tessellation . They were applied on regular surface and also irregular surface ,  while maintaining the structural frequency and mesh tension .



By using basic cell module of 3 struts, the tensional components were explored both using cables and fabric . The fabric helps in creating enclosures and more aesthetically pleasing in installation. It is still in the beginning of the design by studying the behavior of the system, with the goal to expand the possibilities of design in the future , either for Burning Man or Buro Happold.





For the next project, the possibility of the tensegrity structures will be explored more and the design will be highlighted on the playful intervention of tensegrity structure and the advantages of this super lightweight system for both proposal for Burning Man and Buro Happold .

01 Day

Philosophical Statement:

‘Timber-Wave’; a plywood instillation emerging and crashing on to the desolate Black Rock Desert. This breaking wave a remnant of the retreating Quinn River, draws on imagery of both waves and dunes provoking thoughts of the original Burning Man Beach Parties and surfing counter culture. Simultaneously the design evokes concepts of the Silk Road as a mirage of a giant wave appearing from across the playa to be discover by wondering burners.

The design of the Timber Wave was driven by creating an interactive environment. In daytime, people are encourages to climb and search between the interwoven plywood structure. Open sun soaked communal areas create areas for group contemplation. Solitary areas for single travelers have also been designed as places of refuge from the intense sun, wind and dust storms hoping to encourage serendipity. At night the wave truly come alive as a monument to the sea. Bathed in varying blue tones of color the spectacular structure is a mysterious beacon within the dark playa.

02 Night

Physical Statement:

‘Timber-Wave’  structure consists of 3 layers of 12 intersecting plywood ribbons.  Each ribbon consists of a varying number of water bent plywood components con-caving and con-vexing together forming a rigid series of tensioned and compressed sections.  The result is a homogeneous structure creating a beautiful ergonomically sized spaces. Each ribbon a series of circular penetrations in the form of an abstracted water pattern.  Creating foot and hand holes for climbing as well as allowing dramatic shadows to be cast throughout the structure and across the playa. At night the penetrations allow the lighting of the instillation to spill across the playa and between the layers of the structure.

03 Day

04 Internal Image


1:20 Scale Model

01 Portfolio Review.indd


The Burning Seed

The Burning Seed

Mother nature protects the most vulnerable, the weak, the young, the very seeds of growth. At the heart of nature is the dispersal of its seeds. Burrs which catch a lift, dandelion seeds that ride on the wind and those that are catapulted, but perhaps the most enterprising of all are the seeds that are distributed far and wide…

The Burning Seed has arrived in the desert having fallen far from its original host. Inspired by the intricate geometry of the Flower of Life, the impetus behind the design is rooted in nature. The structure’s spiky exterior belies its beauty within – a space of refuge, protection from the prevailing winds and shelter from the intensity of the sun’s rays. The design of The Burning Seed has been driven by its interactivity. In daytime, people climb between the structure’s wooden thorns and look through to its centre at those who have managed to penetrate its hostile shell. Inside they bask in the smooth, spherical interior, interacting with the harmony of the structure and one another. At night the spectacle is truly realized as a flurry of fibre optic lights protrude from the thorns, adorning the structure in a wash of blue, purple and green light.

The Burning Seed Model - Scale 1:4

The Burning Seed Model – Scale 1:4

The structure consists of 37 star shaped plywood components which interlace to form the lightweight dome. The legs of the components are bent outwards from the centre and join to create the thorns of its exterior. The structure is reciprocal, with each component supporting the neighbouring pieces, there is no requirement for a central support. This results in a homogeneous internal space with a beauty derived from its inherent highly symmetrical patterns. The components have differently sized circular holes though their centres. This creates a porous structure and a patterned light effect to be cast on the desert floor. The size of these openings reflects the geometry of the ‘Fruit of Life’ symbol, a derivative of the Flower of Life. It is said to be the blueprint of the universe, containing the basis for the design of every atom, molecular structure, life form, and everything in existence.

Construction Diagrams

Construction Diagrams


An optional flame system for The Burning Seed allows fire to intermittently burst from the tips of the copper from six spikes, illuminating the Burning Seed in orange glow. This feature can be incorporated into the design following discussion with the Burning Man Festival Organisers.

The Burning Seed

The Burning Seed

Three great BBC documentary films by Adam Curtis which help to understand our unit’s agenda: From Ayn Rand and Buckminster Fuller and the birth of the Californian Ideology, Ecology, Eco-Systems, Systems Theory and Cybernetics to George Price, Richard Dawkins and the Selfish Gene, see how the concept of “network” and “nature” has evolved as an ideology through modern times.


Diagram of the Grasslands Experiment by George Van Dyne, showing how nature is interlinked as a system.

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace is a series of film about how humans have been colonized by the machines they have built. Although we don’t realize it, the way we see everything in the world today is through the eyes of the computers. It claims that computers have failed to liberate us and instead havedistorted and simplified our view of the world around us.

1. Love and Power. This is the story of the dream that rose up in the 1990s that computers could create a new kind of stable world. They would bring about a new kind global capitalism free of all risk and without the boom and bust of the past. They would also abolish political power and create a new kind of democracy through the Internet where millions of individuals would be connected as nodes in cybernetic systems – without hierarchy.

2. The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts. This is the story of how our modern scientific idea of nature, the self-regulating ecosystem, is actually a machine fantasy. It has little to do with the real complexity of nature. It is based on cybernetic ideas that were projected on to nature in the 1950s by ambitious scientists. A static machine theory of order that sees humans, and everything else on the planet, as components – cogs – in a system.

3. The Monkey in the Machine and the Machine in the Monkey. This episode looks at why we humans find this machine vision so beguiling. The film argues it is because all political dreams of changing the world for the better seem to have failed – so we have retreated into machine-fantasies that say we have no control over our actions because they excuse our failure.

Adam Curtis is a documentary film maker, whose work includes The Power of Nightmares,The Century of the SelfThe Mayfair SetPandora’s BoxThe Trap and The Living Dead.


TETRA is an installation that exploits the potential of mass participation to create a form that emerges from the interactions of hundreds of people with the construction system over a number of days.

Inspired by the work of R. Buckminster Fuller into space-packing polyhedra, it explores the unique three dimensional geometrical properties of the regular tetrahedron and related ‘tetrahelices’ [also known Boerdijk–Coxeter Helices]. Their geometries provide an invisible framework for the participants to work within. The modular tetrahedral construction system will be used by the participants to create forms that automatically diverge from one another.

These in turn provide spaces separated from other participants for individuals to pause and reflect on the location and nature of their surroundings. TETRA’s position out on the edge of Black Rock City means that once the structure starts to take shape, participants will be able to climb to positions that afford views across the city. Just as Burning Man asks participants to take a step back from the consumer capitalism, so TETRA allows participants to step back and view Black Rock City as a whole

TETRA is a modular kit of parts that are assembled by participants into a structure that changes form over the course of the festival. There are 160 modules, each one a tetrahedron made from four equilateral triangle shaped pieces of CNC cut exterior plywood. Each triangular face has a hole cut from its centre which, as well as decreasing the overall weight of the module, allows the modules to become rungs in a structure that can be climbed up, on, in and through.

The ply edges of the four plywood triangles are bound together with rope to ensure a joint that can transmit loads in tension from one sheet of ply to the adjacent two. There are pre-drilled re-enforced holes near each vertex to allow for adjacent modules to be bolted together with bolts and wing-nuts by participants.

Each module is designed for one person to carry while climbing sections of the structure already built. The participants are able to climb any of the structure that is already built, and bolt their new module onto the existing structure. Once built, participants are able to climb up, select a module to remove and move to another place. This means that the overall form is not set by the designer, but emerges from the collective desires of a large group of participants.

Because of the intrinsic geometry of tetrahedra and tetrahelices, the form will always contain diverging branches with inhabitable spaces within them.

This animation shows a model made from modular magnetic tetrahedra. Each tetrahedron has a side length of 50mm, and contains four spherical neodymium magnets.

The tetrahedra build up according to rules that stem from their dihedral angle [angle between two faces]. The dihedral angle of a tetrahedron given by θ=arccos(1/3) [approx 70.5288°]. This means that five tetrahedra placed face to face around a single axis fall approximately 7.2° short of a full 360°. Because of this, the tetrahedra do not fill space, and instead form sections of helical structures called Boerdijk–Coxeter Helices [Named ‘Tetrahelices’ by Buckminster Fuller].

The magnets in the tetrahedra ensure that when placed by hand, they lock together face to face to form structures that completely follow these rules. When pushed just within range of the magnets of other tetrahedra, they exhibit self organising properties, but due to the power of the magnets, occasionally stick edge to edge or vertex to vertex instead of face to face.