Gizmodo yesterday had a fascinating story about the Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning contest to design a new layout for Black Rock City.
Burning Man is an experiment, right? So why should only Larry Harvey and Stuart Mangrum be the ones conducting the experiment, by setting the themes? Why not experiment with new ways of living together, a temporary, pop-up civilization? Personally, I always thought was what Burning Man was all about. These days, I wonder if the nature of the experiment has perhaps been different all along from the sales pitch we were given over the Kool Aid water cooler.
The Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning competition was started last year, and was quickly covered by widely read publications like VICE and ArchDaily, the world’s #1 architecture website.
Despite BMOrg coming out to say “no change, no competition”, the response has been impressive.
The Results So Far
We have been pretty amazed by the scale of the response.
Since we announced the project last fall, 1629 people and teams from 168 countries have signed up to participate.
To date, we have received 72 submissions.
Gizmodo’s story goes through many of the submissions. I’ve selected a couple of examples:
A proposal to redesign Burning Man’s Black Rock City as a Navajo mandala, by Sergio Bianchi, Simone Fracasso, and Chiara Pellegrin of Italy
The founder is a double digit Burner and software engineer:
The competition was spearheaded by Brian McConnell, a software engineer and ten-year Burning Man veteran. The original idea was to create a site-specific installation at the festival itself presenting visionary ideas for the urban planning of Black Rock City. But as McConnell quickly realized, thinking about designing a smarter temporary city also surfaced some bigger ideas which might extrapolate into other areas of city-building. McConnell was particularly impressed by the quality and originality of proposals, he said. “There are some designs that have gone completely out of the box.”…
The submissions, as well as all the online comments, will be published in a book that will be available for purchase and will be given to the festival organizers. “The best-case scenario would be that the planners see something that’s very interesting or extraordinary and decide to use it in some way,” said McConnell. But he also loves the idea of delivering annual feedback through the competition format. “The real goal of this would be to make it part of the annual planning process and kind of a ritual,” he said. Planners could offer up concerns and ask for improvements that could be implemented the following year.
McConnell also sees the potential value of completely reinventing the city’s plan each year, perhaps with a layout that responds to the theme, which changes annually. “It’s gotten so large they can’t do radically different things,” he said. “What if each time you went it was a significantly different city plan, and you would have to figure it out?”
Read the whole story here
As someone who’s only been to Burning Man 11 times, that sounds like a great idea. They’ve already shown they can have a “2.0” of any particular theme, so we can always go back to the past. That’s part of it too. In the future we will probably have “Fertility 21”.
Phillippe Glade’s Golden Rebar Awards highlight the incredible architectural creativity of Burners. The style even has its own name: burnitecture. The Tiny House movement is starting to follow in the revolutionary footsteps of the Maker Movement, and it too has links to Burning Man.
What is stopping us from making this experimental city in the desert an actual experiment?
Is it Tradition? Ritual? A lack of ideas, vision, leadership?
Or is it the nature of the existing experiment, that is still being done on all the rats in this alluring anarchic maze without walls – who ALL voluntarily assume the risk of serious injury or death by participating ?
Rod Garrett was great, may he rest in peace; David Best is amazing, and doesn’t need Burning Man to be an artist on the world stage. Let’s give the fresh, young, new, unseen and untried ideas a chance. Why should only the Medici and their bankster friends get to decide the direction art, civilization, technology takes?
If you didn’t get it yet, I think an experiment to come up with different layouts for Black Rock City is an excellent idea. Bauhaus and the Panopticon have been tried, OK, let’s move on.
[Update 3/23/16 5:53 pm – added images and link to video clip of Burning Man Founder talking about the city design]
Here’s BMOrg’s official position on trying a new city layout, or even incorporating any ideas from Burnenrs. According to them, BRCUP have started a conversation, and we’ll see what happens next. Don’t hold your breath!
We recently caught wind of a Black Rock City Street Plan Design Competition hosted by an experienced group of participants calling themselves the Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning (BRCMUP). The Burning Man organization has nothing to do with it, but we thought, hey, this could be fun to watch. And then an architecture blog called ArchDaily wrote about the competition on August 16 without doing its journalism homework, so now we have to clear a couple things up.
Burning Man is not involved with this competition, and we aren’t “select[ing] a winner”. The BRCMUP organizers never said we were, either. They say they’ll present their winner to us, and then it’s up to us what we do with it. So the ArchDaily blog post was in error, and it has since been corrected.
As for the contest itself, the official description is worded pretty strongly:
“The final choice of design will rest with bmorg [sic] based on a combination of popularity, logistics and space considerations (including the option to retain the current city plan).”
We love the ingenuity of Burners and are curious to see what they come up with through this competition. We will certainly take a look at all the top designs in this competition, not just the winner, out of curiosity and admiration. The ideas generated by this competition could also be useful to Regional Events, which are in various stages of growth and planning, each with their own location’s design challenges, and we think that’s great. But there are no plans to redesign Black Rock City.
Thanks to BRCMUP for starting an interesting conversation, and we look forward to seeing what comes of it.
So, we started an interesting conversation. And so far 72 designs have been submitted. The designs show just how much unbelievable talent is available for BMOrg to tap into, if they truly chose crowd-sourcing, participation, civic responsibility, immediacy, and communal effort as their path.
You can view randomly chosen designs from the gallery and enter the competition at Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning. Seems to me that would be a much better official Ministry for BMOrg to have than their only one so far: Propaganda.
Let’s discuss these ideas. Many of them don’t even require the 0.666% of a circle pentagram design to change.
Or, even better than just talking: put on parties based on those designs and we’ll promote them here and go check them out.