Burning Man

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Read here about a festival that commonly features tensegrity structures.


Burning Man is an annual event held in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada, in the United States. The event starts on the Sunday before and ends on the day of the American Labor Day holiday. It takes its name from the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy on Saturday evening. The event is described by many participants as an experiment in community, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance. Burning Man is organized by Black Rock City, LLC. In 2008, 49,599 people participated in Burning Man.

Tensegrity Structures at Burning Man

A recent tensegrity deployed at Burning Man is Chirality by Will Buchanan.

The most referenced structure documented on the internet is the Camp Elsewhere Tensegrity Shade Structure

The Ropes and poles Tensegrity Tower is also sometimes referenced, from 2006 at http://ropesandpoles.blogspot.com/2006/03/step-by-step-tensegrity-tower.html

Others have posted similar structures, some links:

Burning Man Discussions

People constructing tensegrities for Burning Man often discuss materials and construction methods online.

Fabrics Recommended for Tensegrity Shade Structures

Token wrote, the ideal fabric for tension-based shade structures is knit materials like shade cloth, aluminet, camouflage netting, or burlap; woven materials like canvas, bed sheets. Less suitable are woven and glued plastics like tarps, billboard vinyl. Lastly are all the other unproven cheap fabrics and sheets like mylar. For the lowest price and greatest tensile strength, use painters' drop canvas, 9 oz. weight.

In general a woven or knit fiber material is much more functional under tension than Mylar or tarps. The stretch of fabrics and multi directional flexibility make for a more pleasant experience. Also, it is more resilient to fastening; mylar and cheap fabrics tear or shear. Lastly, they make less noise: mylar is the noisiest; other Burning Man forum members such as Isotopia and Sputnik compare the noise of foil and mylar to "living in an electrical storm the whole time with the way the mylar made crinkly or booming sounds when the wind caught it."

To fasten the canvas, tape the edges with duct or gorilla tape and get a grommet kit for the corners. Run the tape in long length along the tension lines and use grommets to mechanically fasten to the knit or woven fiber network. Google "DIY sail makers" to learn how to tape the corners correctly for the load and grommet. The sail making articles one can find describe the good techniques without necessarily requirening an engineering degree. All the tools and materials should be available at home depot or similar.

Anchoring the Structure

Ilmarinen discussed helical/auger earth anchors for the structure. Bob recommended 4" x 40" helical anchors with welded eyes. Ron suggested circus tent stakes.


Shade Cloth

Tensegrity structures are often erected as shade structures. In this post Uski asked about shade cloths. The community responded with suggestions for foil cloth, painter's drop cloths, cammo nets and more. Some argued that a shade cloth should not be added to a tensegrity structure.


Tensegrity is also mentioned here, https://eplaya.burningman.org/viewtopic.php?f=277&t=88395&p=1161850&hilit=tensegrity#p1161850



Links and References

Official wesite, https://burningman.org/