Art, Design, Architecture – Despite heavy rain and polemics, Burning Man 2023 celebrated creativity with stunning architecture and design installations. We selected ten projects with social and responsible messages – from a glowing pavilion with colour-changing tech-textile to a Möbius-inspired face-to-face swing and a Solar Library providing sustainable energy to power up the surrounding installations.
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The Burning Man
The actual Burning Man, a gigantic human-shaped statue at the festival’s epicentre, towered over a honeycomb-inspired shrine humming and buzzing with creativity thanks to art and sound installations. According to tradition, the complex was burnt to ashes at the end of the festival. Given such a fate, the structures were entirely built with repurposed and recycled materials.
The Temple of the Heart
Ela Madej and Reed Finlay conceived Temple of the Heart, Burning Man 2023’s main shrine, as ‘a feminine architecture,’ a vessel for reconnecting with our hearts, and a space for communal healing. With the mission to “induce feelings of maternal love, acceptance, and protection,” Madej and Finlay designed the temple to look like an upside-down desert flower with a stem reaching up into the sky, serving as both a beacon as well as a sundial.
The Heart Chamber is the Temple’s central gathering space. Wooden ceiling panels with traditional floral lace patterns from Eastern Europe — inspired by Ela’s Polish heritage. Here, The Rose Altar blooms with hundreds of community-made flowers that hold stories of grief, love and connection. The walled-off Outer Ring hugging the shrine features alcoves for meditation and four main gates.
Studio DRIFT celebrates endangered animals with a 1,000 drones show
Animalia, Burning Man 2023’s main theme, celebrated the animal world and our place in it. From here, Studio Drift returned to Black Rock City with 1,000 drones, bringing to life four almost extinct species of the 164,000 ones on the endangered list. “We must change our world-altering behaviour to protect and nourish life,” Ralph Nauta told Archipanic.
The Hedgehog Temple
Who doesn’t love hedgehogs? Lovely, peaceful creatures. But in war-torn Ukraine, the word hedgehog is often associated with a tank-proof structure made from welded metal beams. From here, Yaroslav Korets and Ella Vasilevskaya, founders of the Kurenivka creative collective, have built The Hedgehog Temple, a shrine and memorial made of anti-tank obstacles arranged to form the shape of the beloved animal.
“The Temple honours the Ukrainian creative community who lost their lives during the war, symbolising protection, unity, and the resilience of the human spirit.” Yaroslav Korets and Ella Vasilevskaya told Archipanic. The installation also raised money to buy evacuation vehicles in Ukraine.
The Living Knitwork Pavilion
The Living Knitwork Pavilion is a pyramidal textile shade structure interwoven with 3D-knitted optically and electrically active yarns able to detect physical interactions through an array of electric-field sensors. The tech-textile responding to the environment in real-time dynamically changes colour and lights up through the day and night.
Each petal fabric of the pavilion features textile reliefs distributed parametrically on a knitted mesh surface. The patterns are inspired by artistry and wisdom found in ancient artefacts, particularly those of textiles and temples in Indonesia. The pavilion is a multi-disciplinary community effort by Media Lab and MIT researchers.
With the Infiniswing artist Sharón Chandally Pedrini created a face-to-face swing framed by a double twisted Möbius inspired loop. By allowing participants to move together, the piece creates the conditions for spontaneous communication and play.
“Part swing, part upside down see-saw, the single, unified structure could be propelled only when at least two participants consciously choose to sit on opposite sides of the swing and work/play together.” With Infiniswing, the New York City jewellery designer aimed to remind us to embrace our inner child, engage in spontaneity, and work together.
The Prairie of Possibilities
The Prairie of Possibility by Moonlight Collective is a circular field of over 7,000 glowing fibre-optic grasses swaying in the wind under the stars. The plants sprout from 436 bases set in 10 concentric rings. At the centre of the installation is a large clearing. Luminous portals invite visitors to share their stories and experiences. The fiction of the installation is that “it is a transdimensional story “ark” – travelling through space and time to heal by collecting and sharing stories.”
The Solar Library
Jared Ficklin & The Other Singularity created The Solar Library, a sun-powered charging infrastructure helping small art projects to convert to solar power without creating panel proliferation or increasing the number of freight vehicles. Instead of filling generators and going to Hell Station for fuel, artists could swap batteries each afternoon.
Museum of No Spectators
Founded in 2019 by architect John Marx and artist Absinthia Vermut, the pop-up Museum of No Spectators challenged the traditional museum experience with “a place where everyone is an artist and can share its creativity, regardless of its skill level or experience,” Marx told Archipanic.
A 1400 sqft steel frame and aluminium-clad structure glowed in the sun with an iridescent effect. Curated by Lonnie Graham, the museum featured artwork by Madelon Vriesendorp, Hank Willis Thomas, Deborah Willis, and more – alongside spontaneous onsite contributions from the public.
The Chapel of Babel
Micheal Garlinton brought his dreams and obsessions to Burning Man 2023… And built a 60-foot-tall hexagonal tower to celebrate them. His Chapel of Babel is a wooden structure clad with the artist’s signature black-and-white photographs. “The human element in the portraiture, animals, flowers, insects, and leaves, will convey that we all belong here and will hold room for everyone in all versions and reiterations of their expression.” Explains the artist.