Arthur Mamou-Mani and Toby Burgess invited Ramboll’s computational design team to help design a number of competition-winning installations at the world-famous annual Burning Man Festival in Nevada, USA.
Our involvement began in May 2013, and as the event runs from 26th August to 2nd September, Ramboll’s engineers had only three months in which to assist the innovative conceptual architects. We have provided computational modelling, analyses, sketches, fabrication expertise and practical structural engineering advice throughout the project.
The two interactive installations we have been working on are Fractal Cult, by Thanasis Korras, and Shipwreck, by Georgia Collard-Watson. Our computational design team’s previous collaborative work on digitally modelling unusual forms, and hands-on experience of constructing them, has enabled us to progress the structures from concept to completion.
Fractal Cult consists of four pyramidal timber pods of interlocking repeating fractal shapes, which stand outside the corners of a 10m tall cuboid space frame forming a geometric mesh of similar fractals based on a Koch Snowflake motif. The pods are built up from pieces of laser-cut 9mm plywood, while the space frame is constructed from scaffolding poles and is hung with climbing nets.
Shipwreck is a timber sculpture of two concave forms evoking a stranded ship rising from the desert, yet offering a shelter of refuge and a restful hammock. The structure is fabricated from steam-bent strips of 3mm plywood, perforated with circular holes, and has a stylised fabric sail over its cantilevered prow.
Visitors are encouraged to climb, explore and engage with these installations, which are designed to be erected and disassembled quickly. Both are illuminated at night.
The Burning Man Festival is “dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance” because all materials, food and water must be brought to site and removed afterwards. the 2013 art theme is “cargo cult”.