The Temple, a temporary pavilion created for the Burning Man event, was built entirely from 100 dead trees, calling attention to over 100 million dead pine trees standing dead in California’s forests. The current tree mortality crisis in the Sierra Nevada mountains is a result of increased temperatures, extended drought, and poor forestry management practices including fire suppression. Together these conditions have made it possible for a native insect, the Pine Bark Beetle, to expand its territory and effect. The trees, dead less than 6 months, were milled into 3” x 6” sections and assembled to create the largest Beetle Kill Pine structure to date.
Drawing inspiration from the pine forests where the material for this temple originated, the large timbers were assembled to create a delicate, interwoven structure. Stepped columns supported a latticed canopy that spanned the structure and cantilevered to 27 feet; stacked wood, configured into basket-like domes created patterns of light and shadow. The central space focused on a void in the apex of the spire; a hole to see the sky through.
100 volunteers had only two weeks on-site to construct the 90 foot tall pavilion. The structural strategy, a repetitive stacking system, fostered ease of assembly, while supporting the primary program with a series of shelves and alcoves for participants to leave objects.
Dead trees in the Sierra Nevadas
Photo by Sylas Wright