Stéphane Malka Architecture makes sweet music in Black Rock Desert, Nevada
Every year in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada there is a festival for the senses. Burning Man is an annual event that looks to stimulate the minds and bodies of its attendees through complete freedom of expression. In 1997, veteran Burning Man artist Larnie Fox said: “There is a yet unnamed art movement that may prove to be of significance, and Burning Man is close to its centre. It often manifests itself as circus, ritual, and spectacle… It is a rejection of spoon-fed corporate culture and an affirmation of the homemade, the idiosyncratic, the personal. It is profoundly democratic. It is radically inclusive, it is a difficult challenge, and it is beckoning.”
Each year the area is flooded with festival-goers and transforms a bare and arid patch of desert into a temporary city of approximately 52,000 people. Currency is often replaced by ‘gifting’ (the practice of giving a present for goods and services instead of cash) and attracts a deluge of creative individuals. The result is an extraordinary blossoming of installations and artistic expressions with temporary shelters and interactive artworks.
During the 2012 festival, Paris-based design studio Stephane Malka Architecture created an engaging architectural installation called Loopcamp which was erected in the centre of a semicircular cluster of revellers called the Playa. Stephane Malka Architecture’s Loopcamp comprised a series of recycled paper tubes over an area of approximately 80 sq m, orientated to face into the frequent gusts of wind that sweep the Black Rock Desert. The effect was that of a giant set of pan pipes which burst into life when the wind passed over their hollow tubular forms.
Stephane Malka Architecture explains: “Loopcamp is settled on the Playa, where the central zone of the urban circle is completely open to the desert. Disc-shaped city, round temple, and circular tubes; the trinity of city, building, and material is gathered around the loop to welcome the sandstorms. Orientated to face the direction of major winds, the shelter is composed of recycled paper tubes, slightly bevelled in order to create sounds triggered by air pressure.
“The shelter results from different tubes with various lengths and widths, producing a spectrum of melodies and sounds - treble where the tubes are short and bass when they’re long. Based on a circular plan, Loopcamp radiates a surround sound with different tones, creating a unique and constantly reinvented sonar experience, a physical translation of the movement from the city and of the elements.”