Vulcan’s Flame

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

I N T I

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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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Timber Wave by Henry Turner

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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.

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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.

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1:20 Scale Model

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Link: issuu.com/henryturner/docs/portfolio?e=0/6863548

ORBIT

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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.

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‘Hayam’ Temple to Sunlight

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Narrative | ‘Hayam’: a filigree temple of light and shelter, a spiritual retreat resting lightly on the Playa, a tiny tessellated palace named for love and open to the sky, a miniature caravansary to welcome the weary traveller.

The Hayam embodies the spirit of Islamic geometry: intricately interwoven patterns and repeating themes that speak of infinity. Geometry is the language of the universe; in the very small the infinite can be found.

Physical Description | Erupting flowers of perforated plywood seamlessly joined together to form a beautiful curvilinear structure. Reminiscent of muqarnas and moucharaby but stripped back to the pure essential fretwork and form, leaving behind only what is necessary. Enamels, glazes and precious metals are replaced by the gold of scattered light filtering through the delicate tracery of the screen, elevating the spirit. The treasures are not material things; they are spiritual. A place of illumination, intended for contemplation.

Emerging from a study into the geometry of Islamic art the pavilion references motifs and arabesques traditionally found in mosques and other sacred places though in itself the Hayam has ties to no religion; it transcends time and space, language and culture.

Interactivity | The structure provides a refuge from the heat of the sun and an intimate spiritual place for people to gather and rest. During the night the four pillars illuminate like a giant lantern with gas fires and the flames can be seen dancing behind the filigree patterns. The gas fires heat the area during the cold night so the space continues to function as a comfortable retreat.

More Info: http://issuu.com/josh-haywood/docs/jh_burning_man_submission

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Construction sequence and prefabrication:12 122

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Small scale test model:a

Large 1:1 Scale Test Model:b

Fiery Lantern

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“Fiery Lanterns” is an expression of sustainability and simplicity, in a modern consumerist world when simple ancient systems are taken for granted. In the theme “Caravansary”, the installation aims to initiate a cultural exchange, encasing Burners and creating crossroads to connect world’s neighbourhoods. The installation shows the possibilities of analysing natural mathematical systems, which we commonly interact with in everyday life and reinterpreting them. Research to produce “Fiery Lanterns”, has allowed detailed prototyping of bending timber to create a memory structure. Testing it to destruction and pushing the understanding of its properties, utilising its strengths and minimalising its weaknesses.

The installation takes inspiration from natural repeating phyllotaxis spirals in sunflower heads. These interconnecting spirals are orientated by the mathematical rules of the golden ratio and governed by successive Fibonacci numbers, to create beautiful majestic forms. This is translated into the identical panels of the “Fiery Lantern”, simply stitched together; they twist and turn to create an ornate case to protect the flames within. This is communicated to the Burner by the symmetry in the design and how you interact with the lanterns. It gives a modern definition of the possibilities of encasement in wood and builds on what is capable using this system.

Panel Assembly Detail

“Fiery Lanterns” are made from four identical stitched panels, which are rotated around each lantern’s central axis.  The curves of the panels are all related to each other, allowing the lanterns to be tightly packed together. The exterior form purposely deceives the Burner, enticing them to explore within and encase themselves in the individual lanterns. The internal maze encourages the exchange and interaction of cultural ideas, to proceed to the pinnacle shimmering lantern.

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The lanterns are driven into the ground, creating a solid structure, with no predefined front, back or side. The hidden internal entrance, allows Burners to search for the center of the “Fiery Lantern”, crawling or relaxing in the shade, connecting with the playa so as to reach encasement. It does not create barriers in the vast landscape of the Black Rock City, but the lantern’s openings invite a glimpse of the vibrant treasure within. The Burner views the internal surprise and is encouraged to have their own sensory journey, weaving through the individual lanterns, taking their own experience and creating their personal connections. The pinnacle lantern, offers a perspective view over the playa, allowing the Burner reflection on the path below.

Fiery Lanterns spirals out of the harsh compact playa ground in the vast expanse of Black Rock City, surrounded by Burners and art installations. Burners can interact with the installation, explore the individual lanterns and find the Burners encased within. They seek to reach the pinnacle lantern, for reflection on the way forward. As the sun sets at the end of the festival, the internal flames in the lantern will be extinguished and the installation burnt.   

Fiery Lantern_Interior View to Pinnacle Lantern

The installation has evolved through a detailed research into the natural repeating phsyllotaxis spirals in sunflower heads. It is interesting to consider how each spiral is interconnected with the next and governed by the same set of mathematical rules, however changing the parameters changes the resultant architectural form. This is translated in the individuality of the Burning Man experience, the internal connections between the lanterns, offer the same experience, but generate differing personalised interactions with the Burners encased within.

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Physical modelling demonstrated how the related curves in the components, allows for the lanterns to be tightly packed together. The repeating panels and simplistic design principle, enable open resourcing meaning once the Fiery Lanterns’ flame has been extinguished it can be resurrected at various scales, using the same laser cutting templates.

The scale of the lanterns, allows each component to be cut from a single sheet for plywood, meaning only repeating vertical seams are expressed. Each lantern is an intimate encasing, fitting one or two Burners. Burners must transverse through each lantern in order to reach the pinnacle, it encourages travellers to cross paths and initiate a cultural exchange. 12mm birch faced plywood is used, as the thickness allows the material to be flexible, but also retains its strength. The plywood becomes malleable once soaked in warm water and can be stitched into the panels. The assembly process and onsite installation is simple and uses minimal bolts.

The flame cannot be lit in the lantern until the ornate encasement has been completed. Construction commences through ground anchoring the secluded base lanterns. Soaking and stitching the panels for the internal maze, allows the form to evolve to enable the crowning of the pinnacle lantern. Once dry the Fiery Lantern is complete, the wood’s structural capabilities and sturdiness return, the flame can be lit and it can guide the souls of the playa.

Fiery Lantern_Shimmering in the Dusk Sunlight

The internal space provides a refuge in the vast expanse of the landscape, shielding from the winds and creating a portal of shade. However, it is not a solitary experience; the openings allow all Burners access to the space. You are able to see out, past or through the structure to the rest of Black Rock City.

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The lack of a defined entrance means Fiery Lantern has a differing appearance from each angle. It encourages Burners to explore the proposal, to realise encasement. It draws them to the warmth and love of the flames within.

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The lack of a defined entrance means Fiery Lantern has a differing appearance from each angle. It encourages Burners to explore the proposal, to realise encasement. It draws them to the warmth and love of the flames within.

Black Rock Reef

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Black Rock Reef

Providing shelter, nutrients, a place to hunt, coral reefs exist in less than 0.1% of our oceans, yet they play host to a quarter of marine species. A wondrous setting for letting the imagination wander, as well as a poignant reminder of the frailty of our beautiful planet, Black Rock Reef invites you to suspend your disbelief, and find your spot in the anemone.

Anemones, more than most components of the reef, share a collaborative relationship with their inhabitants. Their tentacles stun and collect tiny organisms for fish to feed on, and in turn, the fish defend the anemone and waft aerated water past its tentacles with their fins. Once a clown fish has found its anemone, it will never stray farther than four inches from its comforting fingers until it dies.

I hope that the soaring, flexible limbs of Black Rock Reef will prove equally irresistible to the inhabitants of the Playa. The vibrant beacon of color on the horizon serves to draw visitors in from afar, and the intricate arrangement of organic spaces dare further exploration on arrival.

The graceful order of the woven elements provide an incredibly tough surface that is inherently climbable, yet filigree and visually lightweight. Silhouettes of daring explorers who have ascended towards the canopy are visible from afar, inviting others to participate. The curved forms create multiple inhabitable spaces through their relation to one another, the Black Rock Reef has as many inspiring destinations in its topography as your imagination will allow.

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Interactivity
Interactivity is integral to the Black Rock Reef. Choosing and then developing a gridshell system has been an exercise in creating a structure that invites and supports climbing and exploring safely.The permeability of the structure makes climbers’ silhouettes clearly visible from afar, a clear visual tutorial for passers by as to the exploratory opportunity offered by the Black Rock Reef.
On closer inspection, the collection of bulging towers lend infinite surfaces to be explored, and each tower’s opening at its base allows the gentle bulges to be experienced from the other side of the skin. A unique interaction of spaces occurs, and people relaxing on a gentle slope may find themselves to be witness to a dramatic ascent of an overhang, through the apertures in their seat!
The interior of the cores also serve as ladders to the canopy of the reef, which is an enclosed bowl with spectacular views across the playa, with space for several simultaneous inhabitants. The gently sloping of the canopy perimeter serves to gently enclose even the wobbliest burner, without intrusively caging, or breaking the connection with the external environment.
An optional in-situ burn of the Black Rock reef would prove spectacular, with the woven structure allowing for an air fuelled ferocious burn. Burn safe methods of colouring the laths would be sought, if a burn was planned.
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1:5 Scale model of structural system
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Lath fabrication and pre-fab element assembly and transportation
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On-site pre-fab element assembly procedure

Black Rock Reef

Evening at the reef
At night the towers are lit from beneath, creating a colourful beacon visible from afar. The intricate gridshell surfaces cast spectacularly kaleidoscopic geometric shadows.
As anyone who has been lucky enough to scuba dive at night with a torch will understand, the colour and form of the Black Rock Reef will really come to life at night, with dizzyingly complex shadow patterns cast against an uplifting splash of colour.