A look at the top 10 proposals for the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge

The entries present an optimistic view of how the festival, and by extension, humanity, can live alongside nature within the framework of a decarbonised economy.

by STIRworldPublished on : Apr 12, 2021

The LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge recently revealed its top 10 proposals along with numerous other shortlisted entries, which collectively present a sustainable vision for the future of the festival's Fly Ranch site, in accordance with Burning Man's 2030 sustainability goals. Held by the Burning Man Project in conjunction with the Land Art Generator Initiative, the competition solicited design proposals for foundational infrastructure that would support year-round activities at the aforementioned off-grid property. The proposals would have to respond to necessities of food, energy, water, power, shelter, and regenerative waste management on site. The invitation amassed multidisciplinary interest from all across the globe, presenting an optimistic view of how the festival, and by extension, humanity, can live in harmony alongside nature within the framework of a decarbonised economy.

Since 1986, swarms of people have descended upon the Burning Man Festival's site at Black Rock City, Nevada, annually, during August. Thousands now come to experience the melting pot of art, culture, community, and self-reliance that Burning Man has morphed into from its relatively humble beginnings. The 3,800-acre Fly Ranch property, north of the festival site, was acquired by the Burning Man Project (the festival's organising body) in 2016 to create a year-round incubator space. Previously under the stewardship of the Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone communities, the land is home to the Fly geyser, wetlands, hot springs, three reservoirs, and a diverse range of indigenous flora and fauna. 

Proposals for the site included spaces for human habitation, wilderness habitats, regenerative learning venues, permaculture systems for food and organic products, as well as water and renewable energy generation mechanisms - with goals of minimal site disruption and net-zero carbon emissions.

Lodgers: Serendipity in The Fly Ranch Wilderness
by Zhicheng Xu and Mengqi Moon He

  • ‘Lodgers: Serendipity in the Fly Ranch Wilderness’ by Zhicheng Xu and Mengqi Moon He. The top-ranked submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge| LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    Lodgers: Serendipity in the Fly Ranch Wilderness by Zhicheng Xu and Mengqi Moon He. The top-ranked submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge
  • The proposal brings together composting toilets, reclaimed timber waste, traditional thatching methods using local materials, computational script-generated parametric design, and native species shelters to provide an environmental education venue, soil replenishment, sustainable waste management, and habitat enrichment for Fly Ranch | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    The proposal brings together composting toilets, reclaimed timber waste, traditional thatching methods using local materials, computational script-generated parametric design, and native species shelters to provide an environmental education venue, soil replenishment, sustainable waste management, and habitat enrichment for Fly Ranch Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge

As the top-ranked entry, ‘Lodgers: Serendipity in the Wilderness’ consists of a viewing tower, environmental education centre, composting toilets. The installation also has a 'cave' for small mammals, an insect watching tower, and a bee tower. Combining computer-script-generated parametric design with traditional construction, local thatching methods. Soil replenishment and waste management systems have been devised to help regenerate the land and minimise the impact of human impact on the environment. The installation facilitates a symbiotic relationship with local flora and fauna.

Nexus
by Antoniya Stoitsova, Nicolo Bencini, Ben Naudet, Avi Greene, Alex Ogata, and Tom Kendrew

  • Nexus by Antoniya Stoitsova, Nicolo Bencini, Ben Naudet, Avi Greene, Alex Ogata, and Tom Kendrew. A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    Nexus by Antoniya Stoitsova, Nicolo Bencini, Ben Naudet, Avi Greene, Alex Ogata, and Tom Kendrew. A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge
  • It explores the design capabilities of Ferrock, a sustainable alternative to concrete that absorbs CO2 through the curing process of building components | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    It explores the design capabilities of Ferrock, a sustainable alternative to concrete that absorbs CO2 through the curing process of building components Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge

Inspired by the specific challenges of conditions within different social and environmental contexts, Nexus aims to make maximum use of resources available on site - honouring Paiute traditions of 'living off the land’. The design explores avenues for carbon-neutral shelters and event spaces for social gatherings and sustainability education. The proposal is to be built using Ferrock, a sustainable alternative material that absorbs CO2. It allocates unique functions to each of the separate hubs designated for specific microclimate zones, namely the wetlands, playa, and grasslands.

SEED Symbiotic Coevolution
by Samantha Katz, Woody Nitibhon, Henry O'Donnell, Lola Lafia, Eric Baczuk, John Hilmes, Max Schwitalla, and Colin O'Donnell

  • ‘SEED symbiotic coevolution’ by Samantha Katz, Woody Nitibhon, Henry O'Donnell, Lola Lafia, Eric Baczuk, John Hilmes, Max Schwitalla, and Colin O'Donnell. A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    SEED symbiotic coevolution by Samantha Katz, Woody Nitibhon, Henry O'Donnell, Lola Lafia, Eric Baczuk, John Hilmes, Max Schwitalla, and Colin O'Donnell. A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge
  • The design incorporates solar, geothermal, passive cooling, composting, greenhouses, aquaponics, biodigesters, and greywater recycling | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    The design incorporates solar, geothermal, passive cooling, composting, greenhouses, aquaponics, biodigesters, and greywater recycling Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge

SEED uses parametric modeling to craft forms determined by the flow of wind and seasonal variations in solar angles. The installation swoops out from the earth and serves as a functional, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing shelter. Earth bermed, walled, dune-like structures utilise their thermal masses and orientation to handle local spikes in temperature. Built of adobe and mud bricks, and rammed earth. Additionally, it incorporates passive cooling techniques, composting, greenhouses, aquaponics, biodigesters, greywater recycling systems, as well as solar and geothermal energy production system.

The Source
by Mateusz Góra and Agata Gryszkiewicz (Tamaga Studio)

  • The Source by Mateusz Góra and Agata Gryszkiewicz (Tamaga Studio). A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    The Source by Mateusz Góra and Agata Gryszkiewicz (Tamaga Studio). A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge
  • The Source uses solar photovoltaic, battery energy storage, water cistern, rammed earth thermal mass, fruit trees, fruit walls, and compost to contribute 250 kg/year of food, 2.2 MWh/year of electricity, 9,000 liters/year of water, habitat enhancement, environmental education venue, and soil replenishment | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    The Source uses solar photovoltaic, battery energy storage, water cistern, rammed earth thermal mass, fruit trees, fruit walls, and compost to contribute 250 kg/year of food, 2.2 MWh/year of electricity, 9,000 liters/year of water, habitat enhancement, environmental education venue, and soil replenishment Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge

The Source's proposal consists of a colourful, swirling rammed-earth wall, pigmented with iron oxide. The structure surrounds a secret orchard on a water harvesting and energy collecting unit with solar panels on its roof. Growing outwards from the centre, it channels the sacred imagery of spirals as symbols for the journey of life as it unfolds. Its design remains conscious of nature and while producing  250kg, generating 2.2MWh/year of solar electricity, and harvests 9,000 L of water each year.

Coyote Mountain
by Dusty Michael, Jane Maru, and Anna Meloyan

  • ‘Coyote Mountain’ by Dusty Michael, Jane Maru, and Anna Meloyan. A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    Coyote Mountain by Dusty Michael, Jane Maru, and Anna Meloyan. A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge
  • The entry brings together 5,256 MWh/year of low-temperature geothermal energy, luminescent solar concentrator photovoltaic, bladeless wind turbines, lithium-ion energy storage, and rammed earth construction to contribute 340 MWh of solar electricity per year, 120 MWh of wind electricity per year, and a large climate-controlled multipurpose space for creative activities | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    The entry brings together 5,256 MWh/year of low-temperature geothermal energy, luminescent solar concentrator photovoltaic, bladeless wind turbines, lithium-ion energy storage, and rammed earth construction to contribute 340 MWh of solar electricity per year, 120 MWh of wind electricity per year, and a large climate-controlled multipurpose space for creative activities Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge

Following the topographical form of a mountain shaped like a coyote, Coyote Mountain visually blends into its surroundings. With six 20ft high stories, the quasi-public building uses rammed earth, a poly mesh skin, and Low-E glass. It accommodates laboratories, artist studios, greenhouses, a conference centre, galleries, living quarters, subsidiary spaces for greywater recycling, and a climate-controlled multipurpose space for creative activities. The proposal brings together 5,256 MWh/year of low-temperature geothermal energy, luminescent solar concentrator photovoltaics, bladeless wind turbines, and lithium-ion energy storage while generating 340 MWh of solar electricity and 120 MWh of wind electricity annually.

Kiba paa'a: Mountains of Water
by Javier Irigaray, Josien Visser, Mara Equisoain, Deyo Maeztu-Redin, and Silvia Larripa

  • ‘Kiba paa'a: Mountains of Water’ by Javier Irigaray, Josien Visser, Mara Equisoain, Deyo Maeztu-Redin, and Silvia Larripa. A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    Kiba paa'a: Mountains of Water by Javier Irigaray, Josien Visser, Mara Equisoain, Deyo Maeztu-Redin, and Silvia Larripa. A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge
  • The entry proposes a series of conservational, minimally intrusive, and reversible interventions to provide sustainable water collection based on the concept of islands of hydrologically enhanced biotic productivity inspired by traditional Indigenous technologies | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    The entry proposes a series of conservational, minimally intrusive, and reversible interventions to provide sustainable water collection based on the concept of islands of hydrologically enhanced biotic productivity inspired by traditional Indigenous technologies Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge

Through a set of minimally invasive, reversible, and conservational measures, Kiba paa'a reenvisions sustainable water management at Fly Ranch by forming islands of hydrologically enhanced biotic productivity. It takes inspiration from indigenous techniques to reconstruct water flows using tectonic faults. Including numerous small structures within its program, the proposal also contributes to sedimentation and soil improvement by using rain gardens, gully plugging, and swales.

The Loop: How Pee and Poo Creates a Regeneration Service Station
by Mathias Gullbrandson, Anna Johansson, Per Dahlgren, Julia Andersson, and Olle Bjerkås

  • ‘The Loop: How Pee and Poo Creates a Regeneration Service Station’ by Mathias Gullbrandson, Anna Johansson, Per Dahlgren, Julia Andersson, and Olle Bjerkås. A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    The Loop: How Pee and Poo Creates a Regeneration Service Station by Mathias Gullbrandson, Anna Johansson, Per Dahlgren, Julia Andersson, and Olle Bjerkås. A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge
  • It  incorporates dehydration toilets, handwashing stations, straw bale construction, solar photovoltaic, natural water filtration, a hydroponic greenhouse, composting, and rainwater harvesting technology to contribute fertilizer, fruit trees, vegetables, greens, and 1.5 million liters/year of irrigation water | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    It incorporates dehydration toilets, handwashing stations, straw bale construction, solar photovoltaic, natural water filtration, a hydroponic greenhouse, composting, and rainwater harvesting technology to contribute fertilizer, fruit trees, vegetables, greens, and 1.5 million liters/year of irrigation water Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge

Imagined as a temple dedicated to the loop of life, this entry consists of a meandering pink wall made of clay, sand, and straw, emulating an artist's brushstroke. The Loop recirculates waste and greywater from neighbouring events in the desert through dehydration toilets, handwashing stations, solar photovoltaic systems, natural water filtration, a hydroponic greenhouse, composting, and rainwater harvesting technology. In depicting humans as part of a collective ecosystem, the proposal celebrates the movement of water and nutrients through the biosphere as a sacred flow of life.

Solar Mountain
by Nuru Karim and Anuj Modi

  • ‘Solar Mountain’ by Nuru Karim and Anuj Modi. A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    Solar Mountain by Nuru Karim and Anuj Modi. A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge
  • ‘Solar Mountain’ uses solar photovoltaic, and recycled materials to contribute 300 MWh of electricity per year and interactive spaces for play and exercise | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    Solar Mountain uses solar photovoltaic, and recycled materials to contribute 300 MWh of electricity per year and interactive spaces for play and exercise Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge

Devised as an interactive Fly Ranch installation, the undulating form of Solar Mountain is to be built of recycled plywood for easy dismantling and packaging - aiming to provide a modular, prefabricated solution for sustainable infrastructure.  It blends into the natural landscape while housing three separate zones dubbed 'Energy', 'Connect', and 'Play'. Alongside activities such as rock climbing or sliding down its steps, the structure can also contribute 300MWh of electricity per year through photovoltaic panels installed across its body.

Veil: An Armature Containing Void
by Jamieson Pye

  • ‘Veil: An Armature Containing Void’ by Jamieson Pye. A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    Veil: An Armature Containing Void by Jamieson Pye. A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge
  • The design incorporates walipini greenhouses and gravity fed water filtration within an innovative construction using local materials to provide food and to create spaces of cohabitation while generating zero waste | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    The design incorporates walipini greenhouses and gravity fed water filtration within an innovative construction using local materials to provide food and to create spaces of cohabitation while generating zero waste Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge

Veil draws from the issue of resource scarcity onboard ships adrift in the sea and is envisioned as an earthship isolated in Fly Ranch's landscape. The structure encompasses a pavilion with a protruding courtyard, with staggered archways skinned along an inflated pneumatic framework. It also employs a 3D flexible cement fabric on formwork laminated against UV with a polycarbonate membrane. Walpini greenhouses and gravity-fed water filtration systems within its innovative interior provide food and create habitable spaces while generating zero waste.

Ripple
by Matthew Lagomarsino, William Jacob Mast, Pierre-Yves Bertholet, Xiaojin Ren, Scherwyn Udwadia, Bas Kools, Israel Orellana, and Melika Tabrizi

  • Ripple by Matthew Lagomarsino, William Jacob Mast, Pierre-Yves Bertholet, Xiaojin Ren, Scherwyn Udwadia, Bas Kools, Israel Orellana, and Melika Tabrizi. A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    Ripple by Matthew Lagomarsino, William Jacob Mast, Pierre-Yves Bertholet, Xiaojin Ren, Scherwyn Udwadia, Bas Kools, Israel Orellana, and Melika Tabrizi. A top ten submission to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge
  • The scheme integrates electrochromic glass, a bioceramic dome (Geoship SPC), seed bank, solar photovoltaic, cisterns, drip irrigation, composting toilets, and native restoration plants to provide shelter, food, medicinal herbs and teas, habitat enhancement, water harvesting, 36 MWh/year of electricity, and 40,000 liters/year of harvested water | LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch | USA | STIRworld
    The scheme integrates electrochromic glass, a bioceramic dome (Geoship SPC), seed bank, solar photovoltaic, cisterns, drip irrigation, composting toilets, and native restoration plants to provide shelter, food, medicinal herbs and teas, habitat enhancement, water harvesting, 36 MWh/year of electricity, and 40,000 liters/year of harvested water Image: Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge

Ripple is a station for the symbiotic regeneration of human wisdom and native ecosystems through technology. The proposal employs electrochromic glass, a bioceramic dome (Geoship SPC), seed banks, cisterns, drip irrigation, and composting toilets. With native restoration plants, the design provides shelter, food, medicinal herbs, habitat enhancement as well as water harvesting systems that provide 40,000 liters/year of harvested water, while solar photovoltaics produce 36 MWh/year of electricity.

Of the nearly 200 entries, selected design teams will be furnished grants to build prototypes on-site during 2021. With current funding amounting to $150,000, the prototypes will be tested across all four seasons to determine the feasibility of their full-scale counterparts. After this stage, the organisers will take further decisions regarding permanent installations that will form the infrastructure for Fly Ranch's incubator space, while LAGI will simultaneously publish the proposals as a book.

(Text by Jerry Joe Elengical, intern at STIRworld.com)

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