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.
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.
Above is my submission for 2012 Burning Man Art Grants.
Black Rock Market is an inflatable structure made entirely out of thick polyethylene membrane which is dug into the sand. After it is inflated from underneath it emerges from the ground creating a spectacular event to watch. It uses sand as an anchor, hence no additional support is required. Sand is used for shading as well (membrane is covered with a sticky material in areas where shading is required and so sand sticks to the membrane, creating very beautiful natural shading)
Market provides fresh vegetables to the visitors (grown in the greenhouse area) and other refrigerated food (refrigerated in sand refrigerators which use evaporative cooling and are hung from the ceiling). All this in exchange for goods which the visitors bring. These are stored in a storage area in order to be sold next year to buy seeds and to cover the expenses of running a market.
There is also a communal area in the central courtyard and a hanging net above it for relaxation.
The title of my proposal for the Burning Man festival, ‘pinch me, am I dreaming?’ is a play on words. The festival is know for its ‘trippy’ nature, self induced or brought on by the heat and lack of water in Desert conditions. The use of the proposal is a chill out zone, a resting space or dream tent. The structure is made of a system of pinch points, hence ‘pinch me’. It also refers to the system, which almost unbelievably seems to effortlessly float across the Nevada, held by the tension system.
Below is a pictorial timeline of how my Burning Man project has progressed and developed through physical modelling. It began with a regular grid which has developed to be able to control the parameters (such as column length and fabric tension) to create an arched structure. The form proposed for the Burning Man Festival is a double Arched system, which works with the axis of the Playa. (see portfolio for further explanation)