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Burning Man

Building Burning Man: The Unique Architectural Challenges of Setting Up a City in the Desert

09:30 - 18 April, 2018
The Black Rock Lighthouse Service by Jonny & Max Poynton. Image © Dan Adams
The Black Rock Lighthouse Service by Jonny & Max Poynton. Image © Dan Adams

Every year in August, a temporary metropolis is erected in Black Rock City, Nevada. This is Burning Man, an annual event of art and architecture that attracts some 70,000 participants. The people who come to Burning Man come from all walks of life. What is incredible is that they come together to construct an ephemeral city that lasts for 7 days. These people assume the role of architects and construction workers and use the desert to build all sorts of shelters in a fast, sustainable way. The desert is so remote, and everything built in Black Rock City is packed and taken home at the end of the event, and some of the art is burned on site. This poses a unique architectural challenge. The people who have come to build these structures have to plan them way in advance to accommodate all the challenges of working in the desert, but the result is worth it - a striking, unique city, democratically built, set against a desert landscape, and for only one week.

We had the chance to interview Kim Cook at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin. Kim Cook is Director of Art and Civic Engagement at Burning Man. Kim Cook and her team are tasked with increasing the impact of Burning Man’s arts and civic initiatives. As part of her role, Kim engages with artists and community leaders to increase opportunities for funding, collaboration and learning.

The Black Rock Lighthouse Service by Jonny & Max Poynton. Image © Joe Sale Tangential Dreams by artist Arthur Mamou-Mani. Image © Debra Wolff Tangential Dreams by artist Arthur Mamou-Mani. Image © Ales, Dust to Ashes The Space Whale by The Pier Group with Matthew Schultz, Android Jones and Andy Tibbetts. Image © Zipporah Lomax + 6

Burning Man Selects Design for 2018 Temple

16:00 - 22 December, 2017
Burning Man Selects Design for 2018 Temple, via Burning Man Journal
via Burning Man Journal

The design of the main temple at Burning Man 2018 has been revealed: Galaxia by architect Arthur Mamou-Mani.

Designed using 3D parametric software, the pavilion is formed from 20 timber trusses that spiral in toward a central point the reaches toward the sky. Starting on the ground, the triangular trusses span large enough distances to create a series of spiraling paths toward the center of the structure, where a giant 3D-printed mandala will be displayed. The spaces in between the truss members will also be large enough to serve as alcoves.

via Burning Man Journal via Burning Man Journal via Burning Man Journal via Burning Man Journal + 5

Prefab Pop-Up Shelter Designed for Burning Man and Perfected for Disaster Relief

06:00 - 13 November, 2017
via Advanced Shelter Systems
via Advanced Shelter Systems

Christian Weber, a 20-plus year veteran of the Burning Man festival has learned a few tricks on the Playa. Shelter from the harsh Black Rock Desert winds, heat, dust and cold nights are attributes of an experienced camp. “Every year we unload our camp out of the container and use our container as our kitchen. It literally has fold-down tables [and] air conditioning… and when we’re all done, we throw it back in the container and it’s ready to go for next year.” 

Rafael Viñoly, Charles Jencks, and Kim Cook Among Lead Speakers for WAF 2017

06:00 - 26 September, 2017
Rafael Viñoly, Charles Jencks, and Kim Cook Among Lead Speakers for WAF 2017, Courtesy of World Architecture Festival
Courtesy of World Architecture Festival

The World Architecture Festival (WAF) has announced their program for the 2017 edition focusing on the theme of “Performance.” An incredible list of speakers including Alison Brooks, Charles Jencks, Pierre de Meuron and France Kéré will feature across 3 days from November 15th to 17th at the Arena Berlin, Germany. Conferences, city tours, lectures and critiques of the shortlisted projects from the 2017 WAF awards are among the events scheduled for the festival.

The seminars, speeches, debates and discussions will examine “the topic of performance from the perspectives of housing, public spaces, festivals, cultural institutions and new technologies.”

The Best Structures of Burning Man 2017

13:30 - 30 August, 2017

A post shared by [ b ] e c k e r (@thebecker) on

The week of Burning Man 2017 is halfway through, and glimpses of the event are starting to make their rounds through the social mediasphere. Under the theme of “Radical Ritual,” this year features as many impressive structures and sculptures as ever, including a central temple holding the wooden man built to commemorate the Golden Spike, the ceremonial final spike driven to join the rails of the United States’ first transcontinental railroad.

Check out our favorite structures from the event, below.

Columbia GSAPP's New "Extraction Lab" Will Launch in Black Rock Desert

04:00 - 31 July, 2017

A post shared by Christoph a. Kumpusch (@xtrlab) on

Columbia GSAPP's Extraction Lab, led by Christoph Kumpusch, is a five year-long project beginning in August of this year with a student workshop at the 2017 Burning Man Festival in Black Rock Desert, Nevada. "With the desert as a canvas, and Burning Man as a context," the project will deploy a roof structure into the heart of the gathering in order to—among other goals—"extract what is most absent in the landscape: water." In this episode of GSAPP Conversations, Kumpusch outlines just what the new laboratory has planned.

© GSAPP Conversations © GSAPP Conversations © GSAPP Conversations © GSAPP Conversations + 20

The Best Structures of Burning Man 2016

16:30 - 31 August, 2016

A photo posted by Burning Man (@burningman) on

Burning Man 2016 is underway in the temporary city of Black Rock CityNevada – meaning for one week, thousands of festival goers will romp through the desert taking pictures of the hundreds of art and architectural installations constructed for the event. This year's theme is "DaVinci's Workshop," inspiring sculptures based off the artist's famous inventions and artworks, including a large-scale interpretation of the Vitruvian Man on a circular frame.

Read on to see some of the best structures and installations found at Burning Man 2016. 

Burning Man X Red Deer Architects

12:17 - 18 July, 2016
Burning Man X Red Deer Architects, LUZ

Our company, Fox and Squirrel offers creative guided walks around London, we even won Best Guided Walk from The Guardian! We have been going for 5 years and have pioneered the local creative guide trend. We would love to invite you to come along for our next walk with Red Deer Architects. After 5 years of guiding ourselves, we’ve now given the creative’s we’ve met along the way the platform to become guides on a one-off occasion. 

The Best Structures of Burning Man 2015

14:48 - 14 September, 2015

It has been a week since the conclusion of this year's Burning Man festival in Black Rock City, Nevada, and images of its most imaginative structures are still surfacing. Even Bjarke Ingels has published a few of his favorite findings from the week-long event. Read on to see of the best structures and installations found at Burning Man 2015. 

Open Call: Redesign the Burning Man City Plan

13:30 - 20 August, 2015
Open Call: Redesign the Burning Man City Plan, The existing structure of Burning Man. Image © Flicker CC User Duncan Rawlinson - @thelastminute -
The existing structure of Burning Man. Image © Flicker CC User Duncan Rawlinson - @thelastminute -

Correction Update: This article was first published on Sunday 16th August, and originally stated that "the Burning Man management team will ultimately select a winner" and that "the final design plan will be implemented for the 2017 event." However, since then it has been brought to our attention that this is not an official competition, and the Burning Man organization is not planning to update their current design.

ArchDaily would like to apologize for this grave error, which arose because we did not realize that the Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning (BRCMUP) had no official ties to the organizers behind Burning Man, and is therefore not a part of Burning Man's management team. For their part, Burning Man have stated "we love the ingenuity of Burners and are curious to see what they come up with through this competition. We will certainly take a look at all the top designs in this competition, not just the winner, out of curiosity and admiration... But there are no plans to redesign Black Rock City."

The article has been updated to correct our errors. If you wish to find out more, you can do so at the competition website or Burning Man's blog post about the competition.

10 Revealing Time-Lapse Videos that Explore Architecture's Impact in Construction

09:30 - 11 June, 2015
10 Revealing Time-Lapse Videos that Explore Architecture's Impact in Construction

Designers are trained to consider the context for a finished building, but often neglect to consider the construction phase. When architecture is primarily judged based on the impacts it has on their surroundings once they are built, what can be learned from the process of building? The time-lapse is a method that can help architects to do just that, as it can capture years of complex development in a matter of minutes. This can uncover patterns of impact on social and economic levels, as months to years are played back over several minutes.

What is shown by time-lapse videos, though, can be as disturbing as it is interesting; when uncovered, the construction process is a revealing process, and the ramifications in regard to energy consumption can be as monumental as the buildings themselves. The time-lapse allows the viewer to get a better understanding of the types and amounts of materials being put into the construction of buildings, and the impact construction has on its immediate surroundings. By comparing time-lapse videos of different projects, what insight can we gain about how the physically generative process of architecture affects people and place?

3 Student-Designed Pavilions from DS10 to be Built at Burning Man

17:20 - 27 April, 2015
3 Student-Designed Pavilions from DS10 to be Built at Burning Man, Bismuth Bivouac / Jon Leung
Bismuth Bivouac / Jon Leung

Three students from Diploma Studio 10 (DS10) at the University of Westminster have received grants to see their designs realized at this year’s Burning Man festival. The projects - The Infinity Tree, Reflection, and Bismuth Bivouac - are temporary pavilions that will provide respite for festival-goers, each with a unique experiential quality to captivate the masses.

Drawing upon the 2015 Burning Man theme "Carnival of Mirrors," the three pavilions will explore the illusory and enchanting qualities of old-fashioned carnival culture while serving as functional spaces of rest and shelter from the Black Rock Desert sun. These and other installations will make up a “temporary metropolis” from August 30 to September 7.

More on the designs and their Kickstarter campaign, after the break.