by Devanshi ShahMar 06, 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
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.
by Antoniya Stoitsova, Nicolo Bencini, Ben Naudet, Avi Greene, Alex Ogata, and Tom Kendrew
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 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.
by Mateusz Góra and Agata Gryszkiewicz (Tamaga Studio)
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.
by Dusty Michael, Jane Maru, and Anna Meloyan
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
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
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.
by Nuru Karim and Anuj Modi
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 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.
by Matthew Lagomarsino, William Jacob Mast, Pierre-Yves Bertholet, Xiaojin Ren, Scherwyn Udwadia, Bas Kools, Israel Orellana, and Melika Tabrizi
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)