Ca’sah Nanah da gai [Feathers of Initiation]

The installation centers around the natural forms of feathers and pine cones, both being significant symbols in Native American culture, specifically relating to the Agai-Dicutta Numu.  Feathers were often used as an expression of a certain virtue or to reflect a certain individual or significant event. As such feathers were viewed in a similar manner to a gift from a high official, representing a link between the individual and divinity.



The sculpture starts in the form of a feather to reflect on the link between man and divine. The bright colours painted across the platforms represent those painted across the barbs of the modern feathers used in Native American ceremonial dress and ornamentation.


As burners ascend they will make their way up the vane of a feather they will complete their own initiation, drawing similarity between the great events that feathers were rewarded for in the past. As the platforms open they will begin to transform in shape to bear visual resemblance to pine cones.

The pine nuts are important in particular for the Northern Paiutes to survive the winter; and have their own festival in the third week of September. The change in form will reflect the process of change from receiving a symbol from the divine, to receiving bountiful harvest and personal fulfillment. The lighting will help to accentuate the fluctuations in shape throughout the day and night, representing the omnipresent divinity and how it can be seen in many different forms of nature.

  Form finding and colour explorationfether options3Interactivity

The piece will be both physically and visually interactive, with a changing form that will alter over the course of the festival. Burners can twist the colorful platforms around their central core allowing them to climb to the higher levels. As they do so they will be able to read messages of wisdom from other burners and leave their own along the way. The bridging links are fixed and thus can be used by the burners to sit and relax, observing the surrounding playa. The structure can also be used as a shelter, by rotating the platforms to create shade from the sun’s direct heat as well as forming a barrier from wind.

Special holes carved through some of the platforms will facilitate themselves as climbing holds to aid burners on their ascent. The bridging links are fixed and thus can be used by the burners to sit and relax, observing the surrounding playa. As the platforms are rotated, light will interact with the sculpture in different manners, pouring through the holes and creating intricate shadows. At night, the project will illuminate and create a light show, which will make the climbing possible even during night time.                         feather-elevation

fether options3Model – scale 1:1


Model- scale 1:50

Materials and components

The varying thickness platforms will be comprised of 12 and 25 mm layers of plywood, depending on it’s span and form. In each platform will be a ring of 10 mm acrylic between the top layers allows for LEDs to cast out a unique visual form at night. Metal ball bearings will separate each platform facilitating the change of form as it is used by burners.

All this will be held up by steel tubes measuring between 5 and 6 meters in height with a diameter of 160mm. The steel tubes will be welded to a metal plate buried in the sand and secured with ground anchors. The feathers are also structurally supporting each other, through the 4 bridge link, made from the same plywood.

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The symbol of the spiral

Through the inviting but challenging spirals I want to bring you to the inside of the dust storms, to the dead zone where you don’t feel anything, not even a single hint of air or dust but you will still enjoy the beauty and the magic.


What is an spiral?

Spiral_stairs_(спирално_степениште).jpgA curve on a plane that winds around a fixed center point at a continuously increasing or decreasing distance from the point.

A three-dimensional curve that turns around an axis at a constant or continuously varying distance while moving parallel to the axis; a helix. By definition describes a planar curve, that extends in both of the perpendicular directions within its plane; the groove on one side of a record closely approximates a plane spiral (and it is by the finite width and depth of the groove, but not by the wider spacing between than within tracks, that it falls short of being a perfect example); note that successive loops differ in diameter. In another example, the “center lines” of the arms of a spiral galaxy trace logarithmic spirals.

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Analysis of the construction of the spiral

 What does the spiral mean to us?

Spirals are some of the oldest geometric shapes in ancient artwork dating back at least to the Neolithic period, the product of people thousands of years away from having access to writing. As such, we know very little about their religious beliefs and can, at best, guess about general meanings of symbols based on context.

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Spiral to me means CHANGE, means CYCLE OF LIFE, means EVOLUTION all these is what The eye of the Storm is to me. A structure that will symbolize change as the same way Burning Man changes people; the cycle of life, the merging of completely different kinds of lives into the same place or same art structure or same festival; and evolution because it will attract you to the inside and will make you push yourself and challenge you towards the center where you will feel the peace of the eye of a storm as the same way life does to us.

To me The eye of the Storm symbolizes THE LIFE CHANGING, every frame of each spiral is an action, a decision you make in life that leads you to the place you want to be or the person you want to become. Although like in a windy storm that pushes you around, these events are not necessary your choice, many factors in life can change your path like a new elect president in the country or falling in love with a person, but all these merged together will consolidate our lives.Hence that is our task, putting all these frames together and connect them to become whatever we want to be and finally find the peace inside of each one of us.


Daytime render of “The eye of the storm”

Breaking down a six sided box The eye of the storm has six spirals, each one of them in a different orientation, symbolizing different kinds of paths in life. But each one of these spirals merge in the center of the cube creating a space of peace. Like the feeling of going through the Burning Man festival until the day the Temple burns when everything goes silent and calm.

The spirals, made out of standard size timber, will attract you to the center but these will be challenging like going towards a storm.The shape of the structure could become an obstacle but if you success you will get your reward of peacefulness in the center, protected by all these wooden spirals and with the chance to share these moment with whoever makes it through the storm with you.


Nightime render

Making the storm real

Starting from a box and breaking its frame into spirals is the basic starting geometry of The eye of the Storm. Going through many different testings and alterations on the parameters and after an structural analysis leading to the final shape.


Design process through parametric modelling

Looking at the materializing of the structure and mimicking the aesthetics of a storm, the overlaying wood planks give the sense of it. Structured but at the same time crazy, just like Black Rock City.

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Testing of different materials

Building the eye of the storm

The structure is composed of 6 identical modules called twists, arranged in cuboid manner. Each twist is formed of frame elements and ribs connecting those frames, which act as ruled surfaces.

Vertical loads are spread between the outer frames and the central bottom twist that acts in vending and axial force to carry the vertical load to the ground. Lateral forces are resisted using the perimeter frames acting as bracing or the in-plane rigidity of the modules themselves.


Structural analysis from engineering

The frames with a cross section of 50 by 50 mm will be the main structure. Eleven frames on each side of the 6 sides of the cube, making a total of 66 frames.

The overall length of this out of the shelve timber will be 45.5 meters.

By the interpolation of the division points on the main frames we create the secondary structure which will support and interlock the main frame, with a cross section of 10 by 50 mm.

The overall length of this out of the shelve timber is 672 meters


Building sequence: One of the six sides of the cube


The structure is arranged in a cubic form of 14 x 14 x 14 feet and will invite the people to climb,interact and inhabit it. This can represent a health and safety risk. In order to ensure the safety of all actors interacting with the sculpture at each stage of the project, we will be following the right safety requirements.



Construction on The Playa

Feeling the dust at Black Rock City

Sand storms that make you lose sense of time, space, people or anything else that happens around you create these magical moments in Playa when every burner feels alone in a place full of people.


With The Eye of the Storm I want to bring you to the inside of these dust storms, to the dead zone where you don’t feel anything not even a single hint of air or dust but you still enjoy the beautiful magic of the storm. Through the challenging spiral structure inviting burners to come in, I want them to come inside the eye to the safety of being inside the storm and at the same time experiencing all the dust storms happening in Playa which are a natural ritual that happens every year.

We can compare the plague from the Exodus with any of the dust storms that we go through at burning man, The eye of the storm is a structure calling at the sun on these occasions.


People experiencing the inside of the storm

The experience from the outside is compared with a tornado in a sand storm. Symbolizing a constant sand storm, kept in a broken box, which often happens in Playa. Within the overlaying of the wood frames experiencing the messiness of a storm but at the same time the spiral of the rotating structured nature force.While in the inner geometry you will sense none of this in the same way as in the dead zone or in the eye of the storm. All the layers of the structure will protect everyone inside from any sand storms in the outside. It wont be easy to reach that inner point as this all wooden layer will be complicated to cross like when you go through a storm and you are not able to find anyone around you and you feel in a place of nowhere.


Construction diagram

The overall dimensions of the structure are 14 x 14 x 14 feet. Allowing people to get inside and experience the space in between the frames.


Front view: Technical drawing

The shadows from the structure will project a similar form as an spider web.Simulating as the sun goes around through the day, a tornado moving through The Playa.


Perspective plan view of the structure

The reward to cross all these layers of wood through is to be in this protected space inside the Eye and experience the storm from the inside until you are ready to leave the peace and call Ra the god of the sun as in Egyptian rituals when the Pharaoh called the God to clear the skies from the storm and get back the sun to Black Rock City.


Abstract render of the structure

Once the ritual is finished the burners will enjoy a view of the dust storm in a protected space while they wait the answer of the call to Ra the god of sun, who will finish with the dust storm and bring the sun back again.


Entrance to the structure from the top spiral

The thunder-light

The LED lights will be located on each one of the frames on every side of the cube. They will be located on the inner face of these frames flowing from the outside to the inside of the cube, giving the sensation of the spiral coming inwards the structure.

TOTAL LENGTH : 45.5 meters


Night render of the structure

At night the structure will become and spiral of colorful thunder lights that you will recognize from everywhere in The Playa.


Inside night render



By Maialen Calleja , Master of Architecture ( University of Westminster)

My initial studies stemmed from researching into Stellation. This, in simple terms, is the process of extending  polygon in two dimensions, polyhedron in three dimensions, or, in general, a polytope in n dimensions, to form a new figure. Through researching the application of this process, I came across the sculptures created by George Hart, as he has experimented with stellated geometries to which are subdivided to create mathematical interweaving structures.Stellation 1

My Research into the method and calculations of George Hart’s Mathematical Sculpture’s focused on the sculpture ‘Frabjous’. Through rigorous testing and model making I have understood the rules behind the complex form. This is based on the form of a stellated icosahedron, whose shape is contained within a dodecahedron.grey card model

Lines are drawn from one point, to a point mirrored at one edge of the face of the dodecahedron form – as shown in the diagram. This creates intersecting lines at each face as you can see from the diagrams below. Each dividing line has two intersection points, with symmetry at the center of the line. The sculpture aims to avoid the intersections of these lines by introducing a sine curve with the domain 0 to 2*pi. As you can see, each component is exactly the same – for this model, 30 components are used.

george hart diagram 1george hart diagram 2george hart diagram 3

`To simplify the construction of the sculpture, I extracted a build-able section which uses ten components in total. Two of these sections are then weaved together and joined up by a further ten single components to form the entire sculpture.Diagram Sequence of Researched SculptureOne Component ImageryGeometry 2

Following this research, I extracted the concept of avoiding the intersection and subdivided a cube with lines from each corner of the cube. These lines were then weaved around eachother using a sine curve with a domain of 0 to pi. I then mirrored the curves and rotated them to create an intertwining form.Avoiding Self Intersection 2

Another test was created with the same process, however subdividing a cube using the midpoint of each face. – This creates an octahedral geometry.Avoiding Self Intersection octahedron

Using this interweaving geometry, I have created different three dimensional arrays to create a spatial form. The concept of avoiding intersections naturally cause a structure to fail. To form a structurally efficient version of this geometry, I introduced the idea of a reciprocal structure, and allowed the beams to self support by resting on eachother. This did not create a structure strong enough to stand on, however through adding a cube whose dimensions are equal to the width of the beams, the structure became very strong.

Avoiding Self Intersection octahedron 3

Testing the component at a small scale required the design of a joint which allowed me to assemble these components together through interlocking elements. Each beam element slots into the joint; When two joints and two beams are connected together the curves naturally stay in place due to the angle cut into the joint. Three of these connected elements together form the component.

Diagraming the Joint

As mentioned previously, avoiding intersections create inefficient structures – For this small scale experimentation, the concept of Tensegrity was implemented. Tensegrity is a structural principle based on using isolated compression components within a net of continuous tension, allowing the compression members to not need to touch each other. This model was constructed using 1.5mm plywood which has been laser cut; the modularity of the system ensures minimal material wastage.

Construction Sequence of ModelModel Photographs

The three dimensional array of this geometry creates many interesting shapes and patterns when viewed from different angles – this is visible in the following video:





A geometric wall of fire burning on the sands of the Black Rock Desert. This immobile blaze stands as an edifice to Burning Man’s original figurehead. A burning yet fireless wall of plywood and acetate that can be encountered, entered and sheltered in.

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This sculpture stands as an abstract image of flames sent by Vulcan the Roman God of fire, an emblem of the festival’s name. Created from a series of plywood shapes and acrylic, Vulcan’s Flame is a blazing wall of light and colour. The structure is created to both imitate and juxtapose chemical fire, sharing real fires beauty but opposing its destructive tendencies. The sculpture is designed as a wall of shelter, behind which burners can be shielded from the desert’s unforgiving sun.

Born from Ancient Egyptian ‘Cairo tiling’, the sculpture is created from morphing polyhedra. The lowest section of the fire is created from cubes which gradually deform into rhombic dodecahedrons – a cubist interpretation of a flames movement. Internally every shape is painted to mimic fire’s bright hues and coloured acetate panels within the wall will project red and yellow tones onto the surrounding desert floor. At night internal spotlights will illuminate the entire structure, creating a glowing inferno of colour. These lights will flicker to create the illusion of movement.

Visually the main structure consists of three main forms;

  • The outer zone: the sparse cubic section of the sculpture, representing the hottest part of a flame, the region of complete combustion
  • The middle zone: this is the central area in which the cubic deformation begins to occur.
  • The inner zone: this is the coolest space, the most densely packed red area of the sculpture. Burners can crawl into this space – sheltered by four layers of dodecahedrons.

Rendered Plan

Physical Description:

Vulcan’s Flame is a long, low plywood structure, the installation is the geometric interpretation of a flame, a curving sculpture of deforming polyhedral that slowly transform from a cube to a rhombic dodecahedron. The sculpture is created from 55 plywood polyhedra constructed from hand cut plywood boards and secured with cable ties. Internally each shape is painted using natural, organic paints, as the shapes change their internal colour alters from yellow to red. Coloured acetate panels in the uppermost faces of each shape will mirror the shapes internal hue, these panels will allow sunlight through during the day casting beautiful coloured shadows on the desert floor. At night the sculpture will be lit internally with fluctuating spot lights, this will create the illusion of flickering movement. The acetate panels will be secured with nails.

Construction Sequence

The structure sits on a base of 23 plywood shapes, secured to the ground with rebar stakes. The sculpture is very stable as the base is the widest section, the rest of the sculpture tapers away towards the top. Each new shape rest on the 4 corners of the shapes below, bolted through the vertices and then secured with rope. The final and highest rhombic dodecahedron is stabilised with a steel column. The highest point on the entire structure is just over 11 feet above ground level and consists of 4 stacked shapes. A full sized version of one of the shapes has already been constructed and load tested confirming that it can support human weight, all of the cable ties securing the structure will be meticulously rubbed down to ensure they are not sharp.

The sculpture curves in a gentle arc – creating a central area of shelter from the wind and sun. At ground level Burners can crawl inside the structure and rest in it’s shady, tinted interior.

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Inspired by previous research of pyritohedrons, these structures are an addition to a series of other models based on polyhedral deformation. Previous models have experimented with density, altering colour and infill panels.

Previous Models

Philosophical Statement:

Inti: The Incan Sun God, his face portrayed as a gold disk from which rays and flames extended. Inti is the Sun and controls all that implies: warmth, light and sunshine. During the festival of Inti Ramyi, held during the Summer Solstice, Inti is celebrated with much drinking, singing and dancing - special statues are made of wood are burned at the end of the festival. This sculpture is an extended physical manifestation of this; decadent ritualism and a spiritual experience.

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Inti incorporates 288 petals are self-assembled into 12 concentric rings, with each petal representing the hours of the day and each ring every month of the year. These are held together using mirror polished circular brackets, designed to catch the light and reflect circles of sunlight around the structure interior. Inti's focus is the sunrise; as the sun rises on the playa, Inti is designed to catch the light at this precise moment and funnel through the piece, enveloping and bathing the burners inside with it's warmth and spirit.

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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



Narrative | ‘Orbit’, an aluminium tube pavilion stands as a playful take on the orbit of our solar system. A kinetic, inhabitable architectural structure that orbits around itself revealing a central, occupiable space that acts as a ‘center of the universe’  location within which the occupier will experience the rest of the world rotate around them.

Occupiers act as planets orbiting around one another, taking in the beautiful surroundings as each hammock level gently rotates as if it is floating, free from visible connections below, In order to reach these relaxing levels, the occupiers must scale its lightweight structure eventually reaching the central ‘ritualistic’ epicenter.

Physical Description | Orbit stands as a playfully abstract vision of the universes orbit around the sun. Visually the structure is very simple. A series of single recursively scaled down forms provide both the frame work in which to house multiple levels of hammock space to relax whilst also offering a highly structural climbing frame that is scaled in order to reach its epicentre.  It stands tall amongst its neighbours as a combination of both inhabitable architecture and a visually striking art piece.

The structure is composed of multiple interlocking aluminium tubes of varying diameter that hang from a single point supported by the main outer structural framework.  Within the opening at the bottom of each frame is space for hammock netting to be fitted to the aluminium tubing providing an inhabitable space to relax on.

The inset neon LED lighting on the inside of the aluminium tube frame enhances the proposals visual impact at night, illuminating to be seen from near and afar.

Interactivity | There are multiple levels for potential seating, each incorporating a hammock like mesh suspended between the aluminium structure. This provides a comfortable place to relax whilst the structure gently rotates about its axis. As with most exciting Burning Man installations, this structure is climbable with the final point to reach being the central frame large enough for one person to sit in whilst the rest of the structure rotates around them.