Every year, more than 70,000 people travel to the reaches of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for the Burning Man gathering. The summer festival, which boasts artistic displays and sculptures, is an exercise in architectural expression and experimentation, and is witnessed by a tight-knit community that camps out in tents, RVs and shelters in Black Rock City, the temporary city that hosts the festival. The city revolves around a ‘temple,’ a towering structure selected as the centrepiece of Black Rock City. The transient temples have taken on many forms in the past, from makeshift pagodas to a Medusa head sprouting snakes.
This year, architect Arthur Mamou-Mani and owner of fabrication laboratory Fab.Pub has designed the main temple – Galaxia. The structure is fashioned out of twenty spiralling timber trusses pointing towards the sky, with the triangular trusses forming different paths towards a central space. The structure is crowned with a 3-D-printed mandala, the “heart of Galaxia.”
“Galaxia celebrates hope in the unknown, stars, planets, black holes, the movement uniting us in swirling galaxies of dreams,” states Katie Hazard, Program Manager of Burning Man Arts. “A superior form of Gaia in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, Galaxia is the ultimate network, the fabric of the universe connecting living beings into one entity.”
The timber modules form a series of alcoves that are large enough to allow congregation for attendees, or act as nooks for artists and writers. The spaces between the timber trusses will be wide enough so attendees can travel to the core of the structure. The temple is pre-fabricated, and will be mostly built off-site utilising a wide range of technology, such as 3-D printers, laser cutters and robotic drill arms. Despite the great feats going into Galaxia’s structure, Burning Man tradition mandates that the structure will be set on fire on the last night of the festival.