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No Ordinary Tent: The Bizarre Constructs Of ‘Burning Man’

Every year underneath the scorching summer Nevada sun, thousands flock to the desert to erect a massive tent village. The psychedelic architecture is the subject of Philippe Glade’s photo journal, Black Rock City, NV: The new ephemeral architecture of Burning Man.

Totem of Confessions

Part art sculpture, part chapel, this wood structure built by Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti is covered with photographs and ornamentation. It even sheltered “burners” during numerous dust storms.


Send mail throughout ephemeral desert encampment. Michael Krantz and Marko Castor designed and built Black Rock City’s postal branch, which handles mail service if you have your own stamps. Otherwise, an improvised performance on the folding stage to the left will earn you postage.

Sacred Spaces Village

The professional team of GuildWorks, led by founder and artist Marc Ricketts, built an array of dome-temples based on sacred geometry and dedicated to each vehicle of ascension: body, mind, heart and spirit. Enclosed in a stretch fabric facade, it’s a great place for your morning yoga routine.

Sextant Camp

This Kruschke (flat base) dome was designed and crafted by Torrey “Sarge” Smith. Its one-of-a-kind tapered crow’s nest needs complex bends to support the combined weight of people on the platform and the tensile force from a zip line going down. At 48-feet high, the nest capacity is five people, while the Vunderbar placed above the dome in the tower base hosts 25 guests.

Wrapped RV

Sometimes simple is best. This RV is simply wrapped in space blankets. “Why” is a whole other question.

The Voodoo Shooting Gallery

Domes are ubiquitous and dull. When was the last time domes made you laugh?

Bedouin style

Easy to set up, this tent brings a Bedouin feeling to Black Rock Desert. Made with stretch fabric and poles fitted with tennis balls on top to prevent wear.

The Dome of Dough

This 10-foot-diameter igloo-looking shelter was entirely made of 850 loaves of bread with an insulation value of R-5. It lasted an entire week. The builders repurposed the building blocks by gifting neighbors with toast at the end of the event. The beehive shape of the Wildrose Canyon charcoal kilns in Death Valley, Calif., was the inspiration.

The Burners House

With a bit of imagination, it is possible to quickly transform an unsightly RV into a neighbourhood landmark. “The Burners family” used the real estate downturn as a theme for this tongue-in-cheek camp.

The Chiton

A shelter and community space made of steel tubing and nylon cloth, the Chiton blurs the lines between architectural concept and art installation — a feat few architects can achieve. D’Milo Hallerberg, the designer of this 21-foot-high foldable structure based on a primitive marine mollusk, refines year-after-year as one of the most recognizable landmarks of the city.

Starman Dome

The one-of-a-kind Starman dome created by Richard Kennedy and reengineered by Ernie Brown is made of bamboo sticks.

Cloud Extruded

Insulation panels repurposed as hexayurt building blocks make strong and heatproof shelters, although they’re usually bland dwellings. To build her “Cloud Extruded,” Frannie Marchese cut home insulation panels in strips, painted over the brand markings and coded them for an easy two-hour setup. She even had her private bathroom with a marine toilet connected to a gray water tank.

The Zome

The Zome, designed and CNC-milled by Rob Bell, sits at Camp Bubbles and Bass. This intricate and delicate structure is a “zonohedral” dome assembled only with interlocking wooden joints.

Camouflage Tent

A staple at any Army surplus, used camouflage netting is widely available, easy to install and shape over the top of interlocking poles. It provides some shade and behaves well in a storm. Desert grade, rustle-free, and backed by rope mesh is the ideal build.

The Space Cubes

The Space Cubes are scalable, lightweight, and stackable up to three stories high. For transportation, they pack flat. The display at “Camp Caravancicle” showcases more than 50 modules. With an open courtyard surrounded by clusters of Space Cubes equipped with queen-size beds and A/C, they are a glamping version of a walled-off Persian caravansary.

The Metal Pods

Inspired by the work of Buckminster Fuller, Scott Parenteau, a gifted sheet metal craftsman, wanted to build a metal dome that was light, strong, and easy to set up. The bronze-colored dome is simply rusted, untreated metal. A recycled window curtain covers a steel frame, while recycled painter drop cloths are stretched on the domes. Pods take one to two hours to set up and take down. The three-level structure has a kitchen with stove on the first floor, shower in the middle floor, and bedroom on the top floor.


Camp Inventistan, 2011, is a tall structure with a viewing platform on top of four freestanding masts. Aptly named “Floating Compression” by artist Kenneth Snelson, it uses the delicate balance of push and pull forces to achieve stability.

Inside The Soularium

A peek inside the Soularium super-tent shows repurposed irrigation pipes used as load-bearing pillars. Surprisingly, the center mast does not support the parachute. It holds a tall fabric conduit used for hot air convection.

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