‘Hive’ is a time-based installation for Burning Man Festival, focusing on the principle of individuality and an assemblage of many parts. The concept reflects an inhabitable cellular hive shaped network derived from the formation of hexagonal convection cells. The sculpture is a progression through the life of convection cells -a phenomenon which is visible when mark-particles are added to a solution on low heat- the resulting structure is reminiscent of the hexagonal cells of a beehive. The formulation and transition of the many parts allow a playful visual experience and participation. The Hive acts as a shelter and altar to the sun. ‘Hive’ occupies the space where our ‘earth-bound bodies root in the dust’, gathering together.
In daylight the installation appears unified and porous, the interior spaces offer multiple external views and ambiances, communicating to installations nearby. The openings within the surface allow movement and motion of visitors and the light from the interior spaces to be exposed, animating the installations exterior space.
Situated within its spiritual environment of the site, the project is also a gesture of terrains in the Black Rock Desert. The form of the installation allows light, views and the external and internal worlds to invade one another. The structure is made from CNC-cut plywood sheet layers creating a natural exterior and colorful interior. The vertical orientated hive cell-like surfaces, formed by a structural lattice are creating an environment allowing inhabitants to move through the space, climb, explore, gather, or tranquil between the formed spaces.
At night and during the dark veil of the desert lights, the structure illuminates with many point light sources forming a new network of engagement which glances through the inner structure. Hive would be lit with solar powered point lights through the interior, creating the glowing effect of a traditional lantern. During the day, the surface will appear to shimmer in sunlight.
‘Hive’ is 10′ x 16′ x 20′ long, CNC cut plywood sculpture. The installation can be split into two halves (4ft x 4ft x 20ft) and these parts can be modified according to the new site by adding or removing the number of layers along its length. Hive’s materials would consist of 4ft x 8ft standard/shuttering/recycled plywood sheets 5/8 inch thick. The negatives of the CNC cut layers would be used to create the spacers in between the layers and any residual material would be donated/recycled to a used building materials dealers.
The regular hexagonal pattern of convection cells is created when a thin sheet of viscous oil is heated uniformly from below. A small amount of aluminium is added to the oil to reveal the pattern of convection, an experiment first conducted by Henri Bénard, a French physicist, in 1900.
The convection cell phenomenon is only visible when you add mark-particles. The following experiments were filmed with a blue filter on the camera so that the aluminium particles become clearly visible.
My videos below demonstrate the nonlinear self-organisation of the convection cells a few seconds after stirring.
The movement is the upwelling of warmer liquid from the heated bottom layer. This upwelling spontaneously organises into a regular pattern of cells on low heat.
As the temperature increases, the cells’ pattern becomes more irregular and the speed of the moving particles increases as shown in the videos:
In order to follow the trajectories of the mark-particles I took long exposure photos shown below:
In reference to economy of materials, rapid deployment, self sufficiency, interactivity and leave no trace aspects of the ten day Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert I have explored vacuumatically prestressed structures (vacuumatics) to create a temporary structure.
Using minimal materials, a Balloonwrap cloud would encourage maximum participation during the construction and throughout the festival. An ephemeral soft cloud like landscape, where participants delight in modifying the shape as well as being able to interact with the structure by lying down, dancing on, climbing and sitting inside the enclosure.
As documented in the film above, Balloonwrap is a vacuumatic structure made using Polythene sheets at 63 microns, 5m x 3.65m, with balloons as the filling. A large scale model here is made rigid enough to span gaps, flexible enough to bend back on itself and strong enough to act as a seat or even a bed.
The material could therefore be used as the floor, wall, roof and seating elements in a continuous loop for any installation with the added benefit that it would have good thermal insulation as well as solar reflective potential (using silver/white reflective balloons/opaque film).
The main advantages of Balloonwrap are form flexibility and adaptability. An important factor that determines its adaptability is the flexibility control. Without any negative pressure (0% vacuum) the balloons inside the polythene enclosure possess hardly any consistency and are able to flow freely inside this skin. By increasing the amount of vacuum pressure the consistency of the balloons gradually increases, resulting in a more or less plastic behaviour of the structure. This enables the structure to be shaped while keeping its newly given form. Finally, in fully deflated state (100% vacuum) the Balloonwrap becomes rigid, with balloons used as a filling in my experiments, it is possible to climb the rigid load-bearing structure and sit comfortably! The reversibility of this rigidifying process enables the Balloonwrap to be re-shaped all over again.