Playa-ready? The Skysphere can withstand Category 3 winds on its 50 ton movable base, and it delivers beers on command. Imagine a few of these techno treehouses together, joined up with rope bridges and ziplines, maybe a slide or two…
Palmerston North, where the first Skysphere was erected by farmer/inventor Jono Williams, is very close to official Burning Man regional Kiwiburn. Kia kaha cuz!
You have to see this to believe it. Situated amongst the hills of Palmerston North in New Zealand, The Skysphere is the brain child of Jono Williams, whose passion for mechanical engineering and design led him to construct the steel structure. When Jono began working on the project he didn’t even know how to weld, but along the way he learned all the skills needed to build his dream. Overall, he estimates that over 3000 hours were spent on its construction.
Being a typical Kiwi bloke, Jono has installed an automated beer dispenser. Yes that’s right, an automated beer dispenser! Whether you think this is over-the-top or not, you have to give it to Jono — he is definitely creative and has the ability to engineer a high spec treehouse that runs on solar power. He had a vision and simply decided make it a reality: he just modelled it on a computer, did some Googling, and built it. It was that simple.
Built to withstand an 8.5 earthquake and 200 kilometre an hour winds, Jono’s Skysphere even has a ‘Zombie Mode’ built into it, just in case things really hit the fan. And absolutely everything is automated, from the lights and doors to the fingerprint reader. Unfortunately, if you are Jono’s 251st friend you won’t get inside, as his fingerprint reader can only account for 250 people! Jono controls everything, from working out how much power he has generated from the solar panels mounted on the roof, to the level of lighting, to his entertainment system, all run by an app. To top it off, this fully transportable high tech treehouse has a star view platform which gives Jono and his 250 friends access to the universe and a spectacular night time vista
This year, pods dominate the Golden Rebar Awards – which may need their name changed to Golden Screw, after everyone’s favorite Playa McGyver FIGJAM (Fuck I’m Good, Just Ask Me) won the Structural Upgrade award:
“Structural Upgrade” Golden Rebar goes to Figjam
Popularized thanks to the research and feedbacks of FIGJAM, a knowledgeable burner on numerous ePlaya threads, a 1/2″X18 or 3/8″X14 lag screw with 2 round links of chain drilled vertically in the playa with an impact driver, anchors a one-level shelter faster and safer than the time tested rebars.
Anyone interested in this technique must read this thread. Apparently a lot of participants did it, this year it was the anchor of choice in many places.
Should I rename my award The Golden Screw?
This is my closest neighbor’s windward anchor for his classic EMT metal frame shade. It endured a week of unrelenting winds without moving a centimeter. As for my shade anchored with 22 angled rebars that took 90 min to pound in, some were loose with 2 ready to pop out something that never happened before, thanks to these years of French Riviera weather. My neighbor anchored his camp in 5 min.
The ShiftPod, designed by Burners as a camp solution, made their debut at this year’s Burning Man. Reports were excellent, problems were few; a great result for a first attempt. They won Pop-Up Tent of the Year.
“Pop-up Tent of the Year”Golden Rebar for The Shiftpod
The most talked about tent went viral from 1 last year to nearly 400 of them this year on the playa.
This space-age looking adult size tent 6.5ft/2m high was designed by BRC veteran Christian W, leader of Shift camp, with burners needs in mind and adapted to the peculiar weather pattern of the city.
Fast to set up and take down the strong pop-up frame associated with reinforced corners resisted the fierce 2015 storms, floor and doors have large zippers, the three-layer UV-reflective nylon fabric helped sleep in and without mesh minimized dust invasion.
Most of the campers interviewed were satisfied but some advised for an overhead shade or the easy addition of A/C with the provided vents to achieve Hexayurt cool.
This well though out Shiftpod is a great addition to the small family of desert proof shelters.
With Christian W willingness to improve this product through owners feedback, soon it could be as popular as the ubiquitous canvas Springbar and Kodiak tents in the same price range.
Large enough to really accommodate two campers, a queen-size bed can fit in.
The portal windows have removable covers and the air vents can be closed to prevent dust in.
We are very excited about the “Golden Rebar Award” and really the support we have received from our community. After putting so much in over the last 20+ years it is very rewarding to “feel the love” and support from everyone. The SHIFTPODS we conceived, designed, built and delivered all within 8 months. We got them out to the playa just in time and had a problem rate of less than 6%. I think we did pretty good for the first run in one of the harshest environments in the world! Now we have taken the feedback and made several improvements including fixing zipper issues, making the stakes longer, and making clear instructions so the 2 (overtired) people who tried to set the SHIFTPODS up inside out won’t do that again. The new version of the SHIFTPOD can be ordered now for February delivery.
Things are really taking off. We have transitioned from camp fundraising project to real company and we have a team of burners all contributing to make things go fast forward. Its great to be able to work with friends that actually get things done and say “lets make it happen” rather than that can’t be done. We are now prepped for hyper growth and are very excited for 2016!
We have just released our new video and are working on several others, we have launched a new web site, developed a new super cool roller travel bag, several new accessories and are working on a new playa ready AC / Heater unit specifically for the SHIFTPOD ( it looks like they re-purposed a bunch of the best patio heaters, it actually looks good). We have also set up a B2B rental company, and have several large events we will be providing SHIFTPODS for. We have set up a distribution partnership that will help us manage delivering 500 SHIFTPODS in 2015 to tens of thousands next year.
As a camp support project the SHIFTPODS were able to raise money to support camp SHIFT (9:45 & Esplanade) with the Ferris wheel, they provided the ability to send SHIFTPODS to Nepal, Napa and now to Greece. They also helped support our efforts to send Burning Man bikes to kids in Cuba. Moving forward, the SHIFTPODS will continue to support camp SHIFT and our efforts. In addition to this, for every 20 SHIFTPODS sold we will contribute one to a family in need right here in the USA! Fires, earthquakes, floods and tornadoes happen all the time. We want to be ready to help in times of need. We hope to expand this program by challenging big (Burner Run) companies like Yahoo, Google, Tesla, Zappos and others to brand SHIFTPODS and then store them at the ready, to be deployed to the next disaster. The hope is they will spend some of their marketing or social responsibility budgets on SHIFTPODS to help people in need. We are setting up a 501(c)3 specifically for this project and reaching out to family offices and large companies for support.
I know it sounds a bit “hippie dippy” but we really want to maintain the vibe and grow organically. We want to have close connections to our “customers/users”, we want to work with our capable friends, and really keep this as a “For Us – By Us” company.
Join Us! Lets have some fun, lets make a difference, lets create a SHIFT. Please send us SHIFTPOD photos, watch the video, find us on Facebook and Instagram and spread the word!
Burner innovation, helping other Burners and helping the world too. Love it. Here’s the video he mentioned:
Shift Camp are not the only Burners coming up with their own high-tech housing solutions based on years of personal Playa experience.
If there is a pod spectrum with the open source hexayurt design, Shiftpods and disaster relief at one end; then the dhomain dhomes are more at the other end, where relief is something Billionaire Burners seek from their Mistresses of Merriment after a hard day’s jaunting on their VIP art cars.
“The Future has landed” Golden Rebar goes to Dhomain by Michael Beneville
Designer Michael Beneville created dhomain, a rapidly deployable multi-purpose space with all the amenities of modern living. This blow-up temporary house uses constant positive air pressure to shape the living space in a 9 ft high dome while permanently inflated beams keep the structural integrity of the shelter should its skin be punctured.
Inside, a core made of modular panels, contains a functional kitchen, a toilet, a shower stall and a closet. The structural and technical hub with A/C and a pipes network partitions the entire area of 300 sq ft/28 m2 in a bedroom with a queen size bed and a living room with couch and coffee table.
When the skin and beams are deflated and packed around the core, 8 of them fit on a flatbed truck to be dispatched for emergency shelters under any climate.
Of course, this fantastic forward-looking temporary habitat with such accommodations is not for the average burner but Black Rock City is an all-embracing community where everyone as long as they participate are welcomed.
Michael Beneville with dhomain responded to an understandable quest of well-being in a creative and innovative way that broadens the field of ephemeral architecture.
7 dhomains were part of the very friendly and open Camp Psyclone.
The living room of Michael Beneville’s dhomain.
The core/hub with the kitchen with oven, micro wave, hot plate and fridge.
The other side of the core/hub with shelves and closet, behind the left panel there is the shower stall.
The bedroom in the Michael Beneville dhomain.
RVs are SOOOOO 20th Century, dude. Pop-up bat caves are where its at.
As well as “just like a bought one” production-ready pods, highly customized pods were popular too, mixing Art and Architecture – artchitecture?
“New Shape”Golden Rebar for the Rhombi by Gregg Fleishman
To house their 20″ telescope at the Black Rock Observatory, the Desert Wizards of Mars conducted by “Major Tom”Varden asked architect/artist/visionary Gregg Fleishman to build an open sky planetarium.
Gregg, the 2013 Temple and Otic Oasis designer, came up with a brand new structure shaped as a
Made of 14 ply Latvian Birch CNC milled interlocking wood pieces, this octahedral dome flat packs and sets up without screws or fasteners using only slots and notches to connect all the parts.
“Jules Verne”Golden Rebar goes to Scott Parenteau
Not only busy participating in the construction of the Black Rock Observatory, Scott Parenteau
already a Golden Rebar recipient in 2013 with his metal pods, brought to the playa his latest creation, the smallest 2-person shelter in the world.
During the day in its vertical position it is a kitchen with a shower head and storage, at night using the gears fashioned by Scott, the pod goes in horizontal position where with added plywood panels the unit transforms in a 2 person bedroom with a skylight looking at the milky way.
A view of the kitchen/bathroom with stainless steel sink
The pod in nighttime position, the flexible conduit carries utility cables for water and electricity.
Made by Scott Parenteau
One of my favorite architects, the Austrian Hundertwasser who lived much of his life in New Zealand, got a look in:
“Burner in Wonderland” Golden Rebar for the Hundertwasserhaus of John deJong
Long time burner John deJong wanted to participate with an abode of his own that would be easy to setup and take down.
An admirer of the iconoclastic architecture of Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000) John built a free standing Black Rock City landmark with three stories made of interlocking plywood panels that albeit quirky looking sustained without problem the fierce winds sweeping relentlessly the playa.
John’s wife at the window
This theme camp came up with a simple idea that is easy to run and a great gift for everyone.
“High” Golden Rebar for Camp Panorama
With a structure made of modular aluminum trusses camp Panorama offered after an exhausting ascent a comfortable platform to enjoy the city up in the air.A good example of interactive camp by nature.
Best overall theme camp was…
“Theme Camp”Golden Rebar goes to
The usual purpose of coming to Black Rock City is to escape the day-to-day grind of the city, eschew homogenization and look at a brand new landscape. Some burners from Seattle, Portland and Bend thinking out of the box brought to the vast expanse of the desert a colorful touch of normality.
Complete with the lawnmowers, garages, mailboxes, satellite dishes and the open trench waiting for DPW to come fix the sewer leak, this village of 8 houses built with frames and plywood panels was inhabited by an entertaining group of anything but bored suburbanites.
See the rest of the award winners here. Thanks to all Burners who are innovating in architecture and temporary housing at Burning Man and beyond – the world really needs it.
Philippe Glade’s 2011 book The Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man sold out at 1100 copies, and no more will be produced. But next year he will release a new book, Black Rock City, NV The New Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man – covering the years 2011-2015. If you want to participate in this project, please contact Philippe.