THE TREE OF LIFE

PoPUP is designing the tallest structure ever for Burning Man Festival. The structure, which takes inspiration from the ancient symbol of the Tree Of Life, will provide art, performance spaces and a viewing platform for the duration of Burning Man and later be re-homed to form a center for creativity and knowledge sharing as part of the Institute of Human Creativity, a San Francisco non-profit focused on supporting creativity for social and environmental change.

Type Pavilion, Entertainment
Location Black Rock City, USA
Status Construction, Aug 2020
Scale 101 ft Height
Engineering Rbhu & David Powell
Renderings PoPUP
Art Direction Tyler Rivenbark

The structure, which measures 101 feet over 8 levels, will rise out of the Nevada desert and is made out of glu-laminated timber and steel connection plates, with the branches for the canopy being made out of bamboo poles. Fabric and netting form a facade to create enclosures for the performance spaces and an angular spiraling staircase forms a journey up through a central light and sound atrium to the Temple of the Stars, a viewing platform and meditation space.

The design takes its inspiration from nature with the layers of the structure following Fibonacci principle which results in a logarithmic spread of the floor levels up the structure. By doing this the number of unique angles in the structure were minimised which allowed for repetition in the steel connection plates and streamlined the manufacturing process.

The structure is designed in removable components to facilitate its erection and take down on the Playa. Key to making this possible is the design of the metal connection plates which take in the forces of the glu-lam beams whilst housing connections to other elements such as the facade and staircase. Each cross piece is split into 4 parts which are pre-assembled to the glu-lam beams before transportation to the Playa and bolted together to form layers of the structure on the ground. The layers are then craned into position and bolted, and the staircase dropped in.