Pavilion of Gifts

One of the most fascinating aspects of Burning Man is the idea of gifting, the event of exchanging goods that takes place between participants with no commercial aims. This notion plays a fundamental role in the relationships that occur between people but also between people and their physical, built environment. The event of gifting is an action between one person which creates a reaction to the second one. This interaction can equally inform the spatial conditions and appearance of an architectural structure when such an event takes place within it. The aim of this project is to create a system which equally participates in this exchange procedure and which interacts with visitors in giving and receiving gifts. The ‘Pavilion of Gifts’ aims to manifest the different conditions of the event of gifting as it will actively participate with visitors. New spatial and social relationships will occur, where most of them are unpredictable but very interesting and original.

The design of the pavilion derives from the geometry of spirals. Spirals, are found in nature in plants and animals and their form is defined by mathematical expressions. The ‘Pavilion of Gifts’ employes a series of spirals, which when set together will form an aesthetically attractive and beautiful pavilion. The structure of each spiral is formed by a series of wooden triangular in shape pieces, all of the same shape but different in size. Because of the bending and flexible capacities of the material, the spiral will be formed with no extra components or joints. Each wooden piece is designed to fit with the next one with no extra component. In between of this wooden spiral, bags will be attached with a hidden circuit of LEDs which will make them to illuminate when left empty.

People passing by will fill in the illuminated bags with whatever they like and they will be free to open another bag and take the gift which is set from someone else within it. The illumination of the pavilion will be defined by the gift exchange procedure and will vary constantly. In this first approach the visitor would create an interactive relationship with the structure.


TETRA is an installation that exploits the potential of mass participation to create a form that emerges from the interactions of hundreds of people with the construction system over a number of days.

Inspired by the work of R. Buckminster Fuller into space-packing polyhedra, it explores the unique three dimensional geometrical properties of the regular tetrahedron and related ‘tetrahelices’ [also known Boerdijk–Coxeter Helices]. Their geometries provide an invisible framework for the participants to work within. The modular tetrahedral construction system will be used by the participants to create forms that automatically diverge from one another.

These in turn provide spaces separated from other participants for individuals to pause and reflect on the location and nature of their surroundings. TETRA’s position out on the edge of Black Rock City means that once the structure starts to take shape, participants will be able to climb to positions that afford views across the city. Just as Burning Man asks participants to take a step back from the consumer capitalism, so TETRA allows participants to step back and view Black Rock City as a whole

TETRA is a modular kit of parts that are assembled by participants into a structure that changes form over the course of the festival. There are 160 modules, each one a tetrahedron made from four equilateral triangle shaped pieces of CNC cut exterior plywood. Each triangular face has a hole cut from its centre which, as well as decreasing the overall weight of the module, allows the modules to become rungs in a structure that can be climbed up, on, in and through.

The ply edges of the four plywood triangles are bound together with rope to ensure a joint that can transmit loads in tension from one sheet of ply to the adjacent two. There are pre-drilled re-enforced holes near each vertex to allow for adjacent modules to be bolted together with bolts and wing-nuts by participants.

Each module is designed for one person to carry while climbing sections of the structure already built. The participants are able to climb any of the structure that is already built, and bolt their new module onto the existing structure. Once built, participants are able to climb up, select a module to remove and move to another place. This means that the overall form is not set by the designer, but emerges from the collective desires of a large group of participants.

Because of the intrinsic geometry of tetrahedra and tetrahelices, the form will always contain diverging branches with inhabitable spaces within them.