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Burning Man Statement

Organized complexity

Since it's inception, Burning Man remains a festival renowned for it's radical ethos. As the festival has grown, so too has its image as a laboratory for experimentation, yet the city plan has remained largely unchanged since 2000. This proposal re-conceptualizes the plan for Black Rock City to highlight and celebrate the experimental nature of the festival whilst improving the pedestrian experience & the “Burners” interaction.

Generative Design

This project investigates the possibility of a plan which has the ability to transform year to year offering flexibility to what is a dynamic festival. The proposed plan is the outcome of a generative design system drawing inspiration from the logic of natural systems (eg. Astrological, spiritual and biological). This system allowed us to rapidly explore various outcomes and has the ability to produce a plan which can meet both the short and long term needs of the festival.

The design outcome is a plan which offers interconnectivity, efficiency and space for spontaneous artistic expression.

Increase interconnectivity through density

The current city plan was shaped at a time when vehicles were still in use by burners throughout the duration of the event. Given that the festival now actively aims to minimize vehicular traffic to/from the festival and prohibits their use for the duration of the festival, the existing 40ft roadways seem excessive. The proposal shifts away from this car-orientated model to a more pedestrian friendly plan without compromising safety and navigability. The proposal envisions three categories of roadways within the site.

1. 40ft - Key roads for use by emergency services and mutant vehicles throughout the festival. Open for use by burners during arrival and departure.

2. 20ft - Pedestrian and bike access only. Allows for traffic but prioritizes the pedestrian experience

3. 10ft - Pedestrian and bike access only

The reduction in size of the roadways allows for more camping space closer in proximity to the playa. This increase in density leads to a greater sense of communal belonging and provides greater opportunity for social interaction.


The city is made up of 'cells' with one cell being the equivalent to a block. These cells are grouped to form clusters. (See image 4) Each cell accommodates the needs of daily living on the playa with all key services located within a 600m radius. (See image 3) A bicycle hire scheme was introduced with stations located throughout the city to increase accessibility and reduce travel time around the site. Additionally, the plan increased the number of centre camps and emergency points.

Spontaneous Artistic Expression

Immediacy, one of the festival’s guiding 10 principles is poorly catered for on the existing plan. The plan provides no space for/and to encourage spontaneous artistic expression within the confines of the camp.

Within each cell we have imagined various configurations with and without vehicles which provides free space for instantaneous expression. (See image 6)