Jan 13, 2018 | By Benedict

French architect Arthur Mamou-Mani is using robotic machinery, including 3D printers, laser cutters, and robotic drill arms, to build the 2018 Burning Man Temple. Burning Man is an annual gathering in Nevada in which a large effigy of a man is burnt in promotion of peace and understanding.

Once a small gathering of likeminded friends on a San Francisco beach, the annual Burning Man festival is now a huge event on the American calendar. Every year, tens of thousands of attendees gather to discover art, make friends, and witness the burning of a giant wooden effigy—“the Man”—at a temporary city in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.

Although ostensibly an event for exploring artistic self-expression, burning things remains an important part of Burning Man, and it’s not just the Man that meets its fiery fate during the week-long event. Since the turn of the millennium, attendees have also taken part in a ritual burning of a wooden temple, an act that usually takes place the night after the burning of the Man.

Each year, an artist is chosen to create the Burning Man Temple, and for 2018 the task has been assigned to French architect Arthur Mamou-Mani. According to the architect himself, the structure—195 feet wide and 65 feet tall—will be built using robotic machinery, including 3D printers, laser cutters, and robotic drill arms, before it is razed to the ground at the end of summer.

Mamou-Mani, who is based in London, has called his temple Galaxia, a name derived from a series mid-century science fiction works by author Isaac Asimov, reflecting the event’s theme for the year: I,Robot. The structure will be built mostly off-site at The Generator, a maker space in Sparks, Nevada, with fabrication set to begin in April or May, around five months before the various sections of the structure are delivered using flatbed trucks to the site of Burning Man.

The Galaxia temple will consist of 20 timber trusses pointing towards one point in the sky, and will contain a 3D printed teardrop at its center, which serves as the temple’s mandala—a representation of the universe in Buddhist and Hindu symbolism. Below this suspended teardrop will be a ripple in the ground, depicting the teardrop’s anticipated fall, while the timber sections will provide small alcoves in which attendees can write messages to be burned with the temple.

Mamou-Mani believes tools like 3D printers are making architecture more hands-on, something he is very happy about: “It’s almost like the architect is back in the process of making the structure, not just designing it,” he said. “They are again master builders, like in the age of cathedrals, when architects were there to build, watch for imperfections. If it falls, they would work on it, build, it would fall, they'd build, fall, build.”

The architect also thinks that digital tools, including both hardware and 3D modeling software like Rhinoceros and Grasshopper 3D, can put an element of craftsmanship back into architecture, taking the focus away from monetary gain. He also hopes that on-site construction 3D printing becomes more common in the future, bringing the architect closer to the project.

“I really hope that this project will help prove that architects can build too, and that we will soon be able to use those digital fabrication tools for on-site construction,” Mamou-Mani said. “Using this example of the Temple, architects can be more involved and therefore create buildings that are more unique, more spiritual.”

Mamou-Mani is the director of Mamou-Mani Architects, which specializes in digitally enhanced architecture. He is also a professor at the University of Westminster and owns a digital fabrication laboratory called the Fab.Pub. Over the last six years, Mamou-Mani has contributed several installations for Burning Man, including a piece called Tangential Dreams, which won the Architizer A+ Award for architecture in 2016.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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