Acrylic reciprocal demountable pavilion for Burning Man, USA

ACE Engineering Excellence Awards 2014 – Finalist

Lûz is an art installation designed for Burning Man 2014 (Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA) and the Secret Garden Party 2013 (Cambridgeshire, UK).

We introduced the concept of an acrylic reciprocal system for each face of the tetrahedral pyramid to highten the crystalline nature of the structure. In terms of material we suggested acrylic for its ability to transmit, reflect and refract light through and around the structure itself – Lûz is a celebration of light.

A reciprocal frame means that the individual members form a radial grillage of mutually supporting beams placed in a closed circuit. The inner end of each beam is supported by the adjacent member that is in turn supported by the next adjacent beam. The system repeats radially until the end of the last beam is supported onto the first beam, thus closing the circuit.

The structure is efficient as it uses repeated short elements that connect to create a larger structure. This means each element is lightweight and can be lifted easily by one person. With a carefully arranged scaffold it should be possible to construct Lûz without the need for a crane. However, if lifting equipment is available it is faster to lift the three ridges forming a perimeter framework into which the face members can be slotted, one at a time.

Since all the elements are flat sections of acrylic they pack together tightly, making it more efficient to transport and store.

We wanted simple yet beautiful details for the connections so opted for a bolt and barrel-nut connection that is commonly used in furniture making. This achieved joints that were strong, cheap to fabricate and simple to install yet transparent .

The installation is portable and reusable, therefore we have extended this principle to the foundations design using ground-screws that can be installed by one person in a few hours. They have been designed to support the weight of the acrylic and also hold it down in the event of 70mph winds. Removal is as easy as installation and they leave no trace.

  • Design and Structural Engineering: StructureMode
  • Architects: Red Deer
  • Fabricator: Weber Industries
  • Lighting: New York Institute of Technology (NYIT)