The Temple, a temporary pavilion created for the Burning Man event, was built entirely from 100 dead trees, calling attention to over 100 million pine trees standing dead in California’s forests--a result of anthropogenic impact. The trees, dead less than 6 months, were milled into 3” x 6” sections and assembled by 100 volunteers in only two weeks to create a 90’ tall pyre.
The tectonic was developed for its ease of construction: a repetitive assembly system created of uniform parts. The stacking arrangement supported the primary program with a series of shelves and alcoves for participants to leave objects. Stepped columns expanded towards a latticed canopy that spanned the structure and cantilevered to 27 feet. Stacked wood, configured in patterns reminiscent of indigenous basket weaving, emphasized the construction methodology that relied on the aggregation of smaller components.
The tree mortality crisis is partially attributed to the long-standing Forest Service policy of fire suppression, which countermanded prior indigenous practices of prescribed fire. The pavilion is an interrogation of fire in our culture: calling attention to the dying forests that, deprived of small fires, are now at risk of igniting in uncontrollable conflagrations and simultaneously challenging the Burning Man community to take a more critical view of fire, its impact and its role in our environment.
Dead trees in the Sierra Nevadas
Photo by Sylas Wright