‘Entwine’ – Submission for Burning Man 2016

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.

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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.

Bending Lattice System

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.

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`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:






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 .

The Wind Anemones

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Models of The Wind Anemones

The Wind Anemones are The Playa’s walking, floating sea creatures. While the seas animals survive and are transported by the waters currents – these wind animals live and move using the energy provided by air. They are living, interactive and mobile – huge, rolling, climbing frames.

The Anemones are lively creature, light and agile they moves ceaselessly, desperate to escape their tethers. The creatures are ethereal, elegant and imposing. During the day they want only to play with the other inhabitants of The Playa, encouraging them to climb and view them.

Although large, the anemones are lightweight and strong – their wide spanning arms signal to all who pass them while their rustling sails propel them ceaselessly. When night falls the Wind Anemones become more subdued – their gently glowing hands beckon to the burners and their arm-top lights echo the noises produced on The Playa. These animals are living beings, both climbing frames and beacons they long to inspire, interact with and inhabit The Playa.

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Daytime render of The Wind Anemones
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Nightime render of The Wind Anemones

Physical Description:

The Wind Anemone’s are the sea creatures of The Playa. Instead of moving and feeding with the seas currents and tides The Wind Anemones are a constructed representation of desert creatures. In the vast, arid, wilderness they are the only being that can survive, powered only by the winds energy.

Structurally the Anemones are super-lightweight bamboo sculptures allowing them to dance and move in the deserts unforgiving climate whilst being safe for people to climb and interact with. Each Anemone has 48 identical bamboo arms each capped with a painted polystyrene hand, glowing LED bulb and sail.

The fabric sails are both the energy harvesting component of the creatures and a reflection of the silk road that the festival represents. The many repeated elements of each Anemone means that they are cheap to build and easy to assemble. The tough, light limbs are resilient extremities; both mast and arm. While the sails create movement and foot holds for climbing.

Each Anemone is tether securely to a post again reflecting the living nature of the creatures and ensuring that they never role too far from their home. These tethers are strung with LED lights to reflect the lights of the Anemone’s and to signal the location of each tether to ensure safety at night.

The LEDs on the Anemone’s arms and tethers will be programmed to react to the sounds of The Playa, making the Anemone’s both react with and reflect the activity occurring around them.

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Construction of the Wind Anemone
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Construction Axo of The Wind Anemone

The Crystal Path

09The Crystal Path is a structure based on the Hexactinellid underwater sea sponge, its aim is to take a structure inspired by deep sea creatures and to put it into its opposite environment, the desert.

The Sponge is a glass sponge, and is built of Silica. Silica strands mesh together to form optical fiber’s which transmit light, grabbing loose photons at the base of the ocean. This forms the basis for my proposal.

Utilizing LDR sensors and LED eyeball lights fixed to light rods attached through the structure ambient light, from sunlight to flashlights and fire will trigger sensors. These will switch the lights on and off in call and response type patterns. This will create an otherworldly ethereal structure which has a unique interaction with the light which surrounds it.

Its intention is to be shaped like a pathway, users will contemplate the nature of light and freedom, as the open structure will allow bikes and small mutant vehicles to travel underneath.




Black Light Tower by Luka Kreze

Midnight Butterfly Release

My design for this year’s Burning Man Festival is titled ‘Black Light Tower.

Black Light Tower is a membrane tensegrity structure which is constructed out of 38 metal rods and a transparent structural membrane. One of the most important characteristics of the Black Light Tower tower is also one of the most important principles of Burning Man Festival – Self Reliance. Just like people of Burning Man are encouraged to rely solely on themselves and their own resources this structure is fascinating mainly because it does not use any additional support such as columns or cables, but relies solely on its own structure. The membrane almost miraculously holds the structure up and in tension. To be more precise, instead of the structure holding up the cover, cover is holding up the structure.

Tensegrity structure of this kind seems to be a perfect allegory of the Burning Man principles and a symbol of self reliance.
Black Light Tower will provide a unique experience to its users.

Its interior space is essentially a ladder which leads towards the top of the structure. From the day one the space is filled with hundreds and hundreds of butterflies which cannot escape the tower.

Butterflies then fill the tower storey by storey as the days go by. Every day the net which separates one storey from the other gets removed and butterflies can fly higher into the structure. Visitors can climb only as high as the butterflies go.

On the final day magic happens as the butterflies are symbolically released in the air, at the same time as the Burning Man Figure is set on fire. Butterflies are lit with UV light which allows the visitors to see them in their true colours, in the same way as butterflies see each other, while creating a spectacular event for the viewers’ eyes.

Immediacy is probably one of the most important values of the Burning Man culture. As written in the ten principles immediate experience means to seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality that surrounds us and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers.
The experience of climbing the tower will definitely make the climbers fell more alive aware of their inner selves. The night view of the Black Light Tower should be spectacular as all of the rods will be equipped with UV light which will reveal not only the magic of the floating structure under the membrane but ever changing projection of butterflies in flight under the Black Light. One of the most thrilling experiences, however, will most probably be the sublime view of the Playa from the top of the tower on the last day of the festival, that seems like its going to collapse any minute.

Elevation View of the Black Light Tower

Precedent Study

Large Scale Test Model

Timeline Drawing of the Butterfly Release

Section Drawing

Interactive sea sponge components // Mark Simpson

For my burning man proposal I have developed a method to array components, based on the three sided spicule which react to light to form an interactive light based structure

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These components have been developed, enlarged and arrayed to form an undulating structure with a complex array of pipework to hold the ldr sensors and connections. I am currently diagramming their hierarchy  connections and array formation.

MOOM Tensegritic Membrane Structure (Noda) by Kazuhiro Kojima

Architectural students at the Tokyo University of Science developed an experimental, extremely lightweight, load-bearing structure for a temporary pavilion. The 26-metre-long, up to 7,5-metre-wide and 4,25-metre-high volume is self-supporting and comprises only two kinds of component: the metal bearing elements and a delicate space-enclosing skin consisting of an 0,7-mm membrane of elastic polyester fabric. The membrane is drawn over metal tubes that create a tensegrity system and forms the tension element. The 131 compression bars are 25-mm diameter aluminum tubes of various lengths and there is no contact between them; instead, they are connected to the skin by sliding the ends into sheaths sewn on. The membrane is anchored at the base like a conventional tent with pegs consisting of aluminum tubes with tips pressed together to form a point. The compression members are pushed into these pegs and fixed in position by means of steel pins. With a weight of only 600 kg, this airy structure covers a ground area of 146 square meters. The pavilion was erected by 70 students in a single day. Initially, they laid out the ready tailored skin, then slid the tubular members into the sheaths. The overall structure was tensioned on all sides, pushed upwards at the same time in the interior and finally fixed to the ground. The convex and concave forms resulting from this create an animated surface and a lively interplay of light and shade. Since the membrane screens off 80% of the UV radiation, but allows 50% of the daylight to pass through, the softly filtered light creates a fascinating spatial impression internally. When illuminated, the translucent pavilion has the appearance of a lighted sculpture.

Via Archetipo