Burning Man, the annual festival taking place in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, has opened on August 27th, with thousands of festivalgoers gathering to create the Black Rock City, a ‘temporary metropolis’ complete with numerous installations, artworks, and pavilions that celebrate “community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance.” This year, however, the festival experience has been different, as heavy rains inundated the desert and festival site, creating thick, ankle-deep mud. The roads to and from the festival have been closed as large vehicles risk remaining stuck in the mud. While some people have left the site by walking out, the majority of the 70,000 campers remain stranded, as reported by CNN.
Desert: The Latest Architecture and News
First Look at Burning Man 2023: Festival Attendees Are Isolated After Heavy Rain in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert
An arid environment refers to specific regions characterized by a severe lack of available water and extremely dry weather conditions. More specifically, arid regions by definition, receive less than 25 centimeters of rain per year. In the immense vastness of arid environments, where extreme climates present significant challenges, the role of water in architecture takes on a new dimension.
For centuries, architects and designers dealing with harsh desert landscapes and the vital necessity of water have invented techniques, technologies, and new structures. Moreover, many creative approaches have been created to harness, collect, and cool water in arid environments.
The Coachella Valley Music Festival, an annual music and arts festival held in the Colorado desert, opened on April 14th, 2023. Over the two weekends, April 14–16 and April 21–23, 2023, four emerging designers and artists worldwide will leave their stamp on the famous landscape. The festival will feature art installations made by a total of nine international designers, artists, and collectives. The newly-commissioned sculptural works by Kumkum Fernando, Vincent Leroy, Güvenç Özel, and Maggie West lend color, light, and alternate perspectives to the charged atmosphere and act as fresh, colorful, and architectural beacons that transform the iconic Coachella landscape at various times of day and night.
Saudi Arabia announced its participation at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, with an exhibition titled IRTH إرث, legacy in Arabic, exploring qualities of materials in relation to the Saudi landscape. The third round of participation the Saudi Pavilion will have at the International Architecture Exhibition, this year's edition is represented by architect AlBara Saimaldahar and curated by the duo Basma and Noura Bouzo. The Pavilion will be on display at the Arsenale – Sale d’Armi 2023.
Valley of the Arts in AlUla, in KSA, Announces 5 Permanent Large-Scale Installations, to be Completed by 2024
The new cultural destination Wadi AlFann, Valley of the Arts in AlUla desert, Saudi Arabia, unveiled its first permanent large-scale installations by some of the world's most compelling contemporary artists. Agnes Denes, Ahmed Mater, James Turrell, Manal AlDowayan, and Michael Heizer will be the first five to be completed and unveiled by 2024, starting a program of commissions with more renowned artists to be announced.
The site, a vast valley spanning approximately 39 square kilometers with a millennial legacy, aims to become the new global cultural destination for contemporary art, contemplating another 15-20 artworks by 2035. The plan builds upon the success of two editions of the international art exhibition Desert X AlUla, in 2020 and most recently the 2022 edition, featuring work by Ayman Zedani, Jim Denevan, and Zeinab Al Hashemi.
Olafur Eliasson’s Site-Specific Installation “Shadows Travelling on the Sea of the Day” Opens in Doha, Qatar
The internationally recognized artist Olafur Eliasson has inaugurated his most recent public art installation in Doha, Qatar. The installation, titled “Shadows Travelling on the Sea of the Day”, can be reached by diving through the rugged desert landscape northwards from Doha, past Fort Zubarah, and the village of Ain Mohammed. The artwork is visible from afar, but it is best experienced when approached on foot. Its hospitable shadows reward the journey.
Foster + Partners has revealed the designs of the Marine Life Institute on Saudi Arabia's northwestern coast. As part of Triple Bay development AMAALA, a luxury tourist destination on the Red Sea coastline, the project will accommodate a research center, labs, galleries, and educational spaces to give visitors a glimpse into the wonders of the marine environment of the coastline. Reproducing the forms of coral formations, the building will be the world's first fully immersive marine institution where visitors can walk underwater, snorkel with rare species and experience a coral exhibit inside the building.
Michael Heizer’s immense sculpture the City, an ambitious artwork of an extraordinary size, will begin to accept visits from the public beginning September 2, 2022. The announcement was made by the Triple Aught Foundation, the not-for-profit organization responsible for managing the long-term oversight and maintenance of Michael Heizer’s immense sculpture. The artwork, a mile and a half long and nearly half a mile wide, is located in a remote stretch of the high Nevada desert. Work on the structure began in 1972 when the artist was 27 years old.
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2022, an annual festival held in the Colorado Desert in Indio, California, has opened to the public on Friday April 15th with immersive installations by 11 international architects, artists, and designers. Through explorations of scale, light, sound, and colors, the contextual installations explore global themes such as connectedness, environmental sustainability, immigration, social behavior and architecture, pop culture, and the community, and will be on display on April 15-17 and April 22-24, 2022.
As part of the Desert X international contemporary art exhibition, the second edition of the Desert X AlUla features 15 contextual installations across the Saudi Arabian desert that explore "ideas of mirage and oasis". This year's exhibition is curated by Reem Fadda, Raneem Farsi, and Neville Wakefield, under the theme of Sarab (arabic for 'Mirage'), and invites artists to address the history and culture of the desert, its contemporary significance, and the dichotomy between the natural and man-made world.
Disney, the multinational entertainment and media conglomerate announced its new addition to its Signature Experiences Program. Titled "Cotino", part of its new Storyliving by Disney venture, the master plan is Disney's first master-planned community project, and will feature distinctly-designed housing units and neighborhoods, along with commercial and civic amenities and man-made beaches in the heart of Rancho Mirage, California's Coachella Valley.
Conceived in 1977, and currently, in progress, The Mastaba, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s largest permanent artwork in the world, is designed for Abu Dhabi, to be built in a proposed location approximately 160 kilometers south of the city in the desert of Liwa, in the United Arab Emirates. Made from 410,000 multi-colored barrels, the installation will create “a colorful mosaic, echoing Islamic architecture”. 150 meters high, 300 meters long at the vertical walls and 225 meters wide at the 60 degrees slanted walls, the duo’s final project will take at least three years to be built, once it receives governmental approval.
African nations are fighting climate change with an 8,000 kilometer long Great Green Wall meant to combat the desertification of the Sahel region, home to over 100 million people. Spanning the entire width of the African continent, the movement aims to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land, sequester 250 million tonnes of carbon and create 10 million jobs in rural Africa by 2030. Stretching from Senegal in the West to Djibouti in the East, the project is the joint effort of 21 African nations that strive to restore the once lush region and protect the livelihoods of local communities.
Oppenheim Architecture and Saudi developers The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) have unveiled the design of a new mountain resort nestled in the wadi vistas of western Saudi Arabia. Titled Desert Rock, the project draws inspiration from the surrounding geography, allowing guests to connect with the nature and the local culture of the region through a fully nature-integrated architecture.
Bjarke Ingels Group has released images of a new 150,000-acre masterplan that would be built from scratch on a desert in Western United States. Titled Telosa, the project aims "to create a new city in America that sets a global standard for urban living, expands human potential, and becomes a blueprint for future generations". The project is expected to house over 5 million residents within the next 40 years, with a vision of becoming the most sustainable city in the world.
Delicately excavated from the natural grounds of Jordan’s Wadi Rum, Jordanian architect Rasem Kamal transformed the phrase of “form follows function” into “subtraction follows function”, emphasizing the relationship between external form and internal space with a resort that promises a sanctuary both above and underground.
In the newly-released video of the proposal, the architect uncovers the hidden resort and takes viewers on an enchanting walkthrough of the proposed Wadi Rum Sanctuary Resort. Kamal complements the desert’s jagged landscape with the resort’s subtle architecture, letting the structure blend seamlessly with its surroundings.
X-Architects’ entry for the Desert Resort Competition, generated a luxury 60 keys desert hideaway resort, in an ultra-harsh and empty environment. Placed in Rub’ Al Khali, the world’s biggest sand sea located in the KSA, the project addresses the challenging design in desert-like surroundings.