SOL is an architecture designed by Burning Man for Burning Man as a celebration of its surrounding landscape.The design creates an enclosed space, which is flooded with light daily at 12pm for a limited time. This ritual occurs only when both sun and architecture line up, becoming one entity.
SOL is 9m long, 3m wide and 5m tall. The entire structure is made out of 18mm birch plywood, cut with CNC and assembled on the Playa.
SOL is directly connected with its surrounding landscape, mimicking the silhouette of the harsh mountains. A series of 9 chimneys, which rise from the ground create several sloped surfaces where users can lay down to relax and embrace the natural surrounding. During daytime SOL will be a climbable structure, which can also provide shelter from the challenging conditions of the desert.
SOL was designed to act, appear and generate different experiences based on the user’s position.Frontally viewed it acts as a sun clock aligning with the sun at 12pm.
The overall shape resembles a series of monolithic rocks emerging from the playa, which are inspired by the landscape. During night time, SOL is dynamically lit by LED strips both internally and externally, producing a colorful light show, which celebrates the darkness of the night through artificial light.
Over the years, Black Rock City has seen a multitude of projects which have been created to animate the Playa.
SOL aims to be a playful, interactive and informative design, which enhances the relationship between humans and celestial bodies, in particular with the sun. Human history has been driven by the cult of the sun, and divinities and architecture have been dedicated to it. With the help of parametric design and environmental analysis, SOL is a direct representation of a particular moment on the playa: 12pm of everyday.
Internally, the light that penetrates and cast itself on the floor for only 30 minutes, wants to make the user aware of the sun’s movement in a more evident way. This phenomenon is a daily ritual, which brings people together in order to experience a connection with our universe that we sometimes take for granted since we cannot directly perceive it.
The wooden structure will be lit on fire on the last day of the festival since it was designed to exist only at Burning Man for the length of the festival.
My inspirations has a direct link to archeoastrology, a science that looks at the relationship between celestial bodies and architecture, i.e. Stonehenge, Chiceniza and the Parthenon in Rome. The common element between these projects is the attention, precision and relation with the sky and the movement of the sun. All of these projects and many more, create a different dimension where the architecture only becomes a tool to admire and contemplate what surrounds us.
In conclusion, SOL aims to be an example of how architecture can be shaped by the use of datas and parametric design, in order to deliver a project which is directly derived from its surrounding environment.
Whatever your creed your reliance on the sun is unquestionable.
We have worshipped it as a God.
Spent lifetimes studying it through science.
Yet human hands will never touch its surface.
Celestial Field brings our sun to the Playa for us to dance in its glory.
Triggering our own solar flare.
From the dawn of time the sun has been a constant in human life. It has been central to the beliefs of nearly every civilisation throughout history. What was once an astrological wonder sustaining life; dictating when to plant and harvest our crops; evolved into a god and deity, woven into the stories and teachings of nearly every culture, from the Egyptians to the Ancient Greeks and even Christianity.
The oldest man-made structures in the world have resounding astrological connections to both the sun and constellations, covered in carvings they unquestionably align to major astrological events.
Newgrange in Boyne Valley, Ireland, thought to be built in 3500BC, has a tomb in which sits a stone basin lit by a single beam of light at sunrise on the winter solstice.
The Egyptians, Greeks, and Christians have all referenced the sun within their religion and beliefs.
The Egyptians in 3000BC had Ra, the Greeks in 400BC believed Helios to be God of the sun, and Christians have often depicted Jesus in front of what is thought by many to be the solar cross.
In the past the sun has been depicted as a 2Dimensional disk of light travelling across the sky before dying only to be reborn at sunrise.
The Ancient Greeks believed Helios to be the personification of the sun. A man with a many rayed crown of light, pulling the sun across the open sky with a horse drawn chariot. The Helios named after the Greek god has been used and adapted through the ages, with one of the most recognisable iterations being the logo of global corporation BP which symbolises “a number of things – not least the greatest source of energy … the sun itself..” – bp.com
This once celestial being has now become a tangible thing. Through advances in our technological and scientific capability we have gained an understanding of the suns chemical make-up, uncovering many of its secrets from sun spots to solar flares. Although we have developed an increased understanding of the forces driving the sun, it is still no more accessible to us mere humans than on the first day on earth remaining an impenetrable sphere in the sky only to viewed from a far.
Digital animation of lighting tests
The suns surface has taught us much. Galileo’s sun spot diagrams unknowingly demonstrated the unique fluidity of the suns chromosphere. Further study of these sun spots and magnificent solar flares proved that the surface of the sun is covered in billions of interlaced magnetic fields all interacting together to form the whole. When these fields cross swirling plasma burst in an instance out into the corona bringing with it immense light displays that can be seen on earth as the aurora.
In an age where endless streams of newfound knowledge are accessible with the touch of a finger – it is easy to lose our sense of innocent amazement and unquestioning awe. We have a constant need for explanation of why and how phenomena exist, no longer blindly excepting their beauty and revelling in it.
The indescribable beauty of these gigantic magnetic fields can often be lost and forgotten in the mundane when scaled down to earthly objects. Viewing them at a micro scale allows us to connect with their other-worldly nature.
Science has taught us how a magnet attracts and repels enabling use in industry, medicine and everyday life. And as our knowledge expands, we move from child to adulthood and our desire to play diminishes – burdened by explanations and reasoning; we are no longer in awe of our ability to make metal move without laying hands on it. It has become the norm and the expected, it is no longer ‘magic’.
Life should be fun and full of mesmerising moments. Our increased knowledge should enable and enhance our experience of ‘magic’ not hinder it.
Celestial Fields captures the unexplainable wonderment the sun once held and makes it accessible through modern mediums, combining two worlds; science and enchantment, imbedding them on the Playa at Black Rock City, Nevada, for people to explore and lose themselves in.
Thousands of swaying rods made of tubes of one-way mirror form an undulating field, rising high above your head, and falling like the plasma pulled in all directions by the phenomenal magnetic forces found on our sun.
By day a field of mirrors reflect and intensify the suns natural beauty and power. Creating a maze of ever changing light to explore, push through and play within. At sunset everything transforms. The field morphs, bursting into a sea of glowing beams reacting to movement and mimicking the fluid, almost pulsing nature of the suns corona.
Like the chromosphere, magnetic fields have informed density and pattern, creating patches of pure brightness and areas as dark as sunspots. With each rod built on a spring loaded base it can be pushed a manipulated, enabling you to forge your own path through the densest areas of Celestial Field, parting rods like magnets repelling polarised iron.
Movement through the sprung rods creates interest not only for the participants but also onlookers. During daylight hours people weaving in and out can be seen across the playa through the constant glinting of the sun on the reflective rods. An ever changing shimmer, like sunlight dancing across water in the distance, drawing people in from all directions out of wonder and intrigue.
Once the sun has set the lights come on, and the show only gets better. The rods now glow and pulse, changing colour, transforming the world around them – each equipped with a sensor so as to react to movement as people push past; creating tracks of swirling light shifting like the turbulent surface of the sun. Areas of intense and overwhelming light can occur when people team together to trigger a cluster of rods forming a concentration of light evocative of a solar flare.
The sun is not solely about light, with it comes inevitable darkness. Shadows too have been used throughout time as a symbol in opposition to that of the sun; and in this instance the areas of shadow formed in the magnetic layout create areas of calm within the thrill of the lights where one can sit and ponder everything from the dessert to the sky and the sun that brings life to earth.
What was once worshipped as a distant god and celestial being can now exist on the surface of the earth as a Celestial Field in Nevada. The sun has risen and set, bringing with it heat and light; powering life on earth since the dawn of time, a focus of incomprehensible wonder and fascination for each and every culture across the globe.
Celestial Field intends to reignite our faith in the intangible, while showing us there are powers and beauty still to be found in the modern world.