Check out these ten wild proposals for a permanent Burning Man in the Nevada desert

Burning Ideas

Check out these ten wild proposals for a permanent Burning Man in the Nevada desert

Lodgers: Serendipity in the Fly Ranch Wilderness by Zhicheng Xu and Mengqi Moon He 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. (Courtesy of LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge)

Every summer, photos of otherworldly pavilions, tricked-out steampunk cars, and dusty hula-hoopers ingesting empathogens slide onto Instagram feeds worldwide thanks to Burning Man, the nine-day worldbuilding experiment in the remote Black Rock Desert of Nevada. Soon, though, burners won’t have to wait all year to meet up as Burning Man organizers have released design proposals for a permanent home near the festival site.

The proposals were gathered via an international design competition organized by the San Francisco-based nonprofit behind Burning Man in collaboration with the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI), an art nonprofit based in Seattle.

While the top designs were revealed to the public last week, Burning Man purchased the 3,800-acre Nevada property those designs will be tested on back in 2016. The site, dubbed Fly Ranch, is meant to be a year-round incubator for burner culture—a place where community members can create an artful settlement that vibes with desert ecology. First held in 1986 as a modest summer solstice event held at Baker Beach in San Francisco, Burning Man has since grown into a global phenomenon with attendance for the 2019 festival topping 78,000 people. The 2020 festival was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic although a significantly smaller fête was held in San Francisco.

The LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge yielded almost 200 entries from which jurors selected ten frontrunners and a handful of shortlisted projects. Teams were asked to design from the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs—food, water, shelter—on up to energy, water, and waste management infrastructure. Of course, every element had to look nice, too.

Most proposals also included areas for learning and gathering, permaculture systems for growing food, and designs that used earth-friendly materials. The ten winners will split $150,000 in honoraria that will fund the construction of prototypes on-site this summer.

The jurors’ top pick is designed to foster deeper kinship between humans and the biosphere. Lodgers: Serendipity in the Fly Ranch Wilderness  features parametrically-modeled wood structures shaped like scallions, garlic, and macadamia nuts. (They’re pictured at the top of this page.) The middle structure is an environmental education center, while the one on the left is a viewing tower. The comparatively diminutive building on the right is a composting toilet. Lodgers also features soil replenishment scheme and incubators for native species arranged along a central axis. The proposal was conceived by Massachusetts Institute of Technology architecture students Zhicheng Xu and Mengqi Moon He.

The other nine top proposals are featured below. (All captions are courtesy of the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge.) Hungry for more eco-tecture? The boards for these and all other design proposals submitted to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge can be found here.

illustration of a curious structure in the nevada desert
Ripple by Matthew Lagomarsino, William Jacob Mast, Pierre-Yves Bertholet, Xiaojin Ren, Scherwyn Udwadia, Bas Kools, Israel Orellana, and Melika Tabrizi 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. (Courtesy LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge)
Veil: An Armature Containing Void by Jamieson Pye 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. (Courtesy LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge)
an undulating structure in the middle of the desert
Solar Mountain by Nuru Karim and Anuj Modi uses solar photovoltaic, and recycled materials to contribute 300 MWh of electricity per year and interactive spaces for play and exercise. (Courtesy LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge)
renderings of a serpentine structure
The Loop: How Pee and Poo Creates a Regeneration Service Station by Mathias Gullbrandson , Anna Johansson, Per Dahlgren, Julia Andersson, and Olle Bjerkås 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. (Courtesy LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge)
a map view of a desert landscape
Kiba paa’a: Mountains of Water by Javier Irigaray, Josien Visser, Mara Equisoain, Deyo Maeztu-Redin, and Silvia Larripa 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. (Courtesy LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge)
illustration of a structures in the moon-lit desert
Coyote Mountain by Dusty Michael, Jane Maru, and Anna Meloyan 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. (Courtesy LAGI2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge)
a circular pavilion in the desert
The Source by Mateusz Góra and Agata Gryszkiewicz (Tamaga Studio) 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. (Courtesy LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge)
illustration of a futuristic structure emerging from the desert landscape
SEED symbiotic coevolution by Samantha Katz, Woody Nitibhon, Henry O’Donnell, Lola Lafia, Eric Baczuk, John Hilmes, Max Schwitalla, and Colin O’Donnell incorporates solar, geothermal, passive cooling, composting, greenhouses, aquaponics, biodigesters, and greywater recycling. (Courtesy LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge)
a pavilion in the desert pictured at night
Nexus by Antoniya Stoitsova, Nicolo Bencini, Ben Naudet, Avi Greene, Alex Ogata, and Tom Kendrew explores the design capabilities of Ferrock, a sustainable alternative to concrete that absorbs CO2 through the curing process of building components.(Courtesy LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge)