Temple Galaxia Is Headed to Playa One Triangle at a Time

Galaxia, the 2018 Temple, measures its progress — and success — in people and triangles. A whole lotta triangles.

The build crews in San Francisco and Reno have recently finished the 2,400 wooden triangles that will make up the giant curves of this year’s Temple.

The crew has also met their fundraising goal, which means they can now focus on creating the Temple and move on to the serious engineering business of scaffolding and metal plates to support the 30,000-square-foot space.

The triangles — and the Temple — tip their hat to the theme of machines but remain firmly focused on people. Their design has created a highly accessible Temple where everything is a doorway, and their “volunteer-friendly geometry” has enabled people from all walks of life and skill sets to help build.

“The triangles range from 16 feet wide to around three feet wide. They’re designed to fit a human being first, and then they grow smaller towards the sky,” says Arthur Mamou-Mani, a London-based French architect who designed Galaxia and leads the project.

To create these triangles and the Temple’s geometric curves, Arthur used a design technique that’s popular among a new generation of architects.

“We used algorithmic design, which lets the computer generate geometries based on mathematical functions,” he says.

“The paradox of this project, which I find really beautiful, is working with the idea of machines and the theme of I, Robot, yet having a very human project built by a big team of about 125 people. We’re also trying to merge these two worlds: a world where architects like me use algorithmic design and one that uses ancestral carpentry.”

(Photo by Sera Sidhe)

All Hands on Deck

The crew’s designers also made sure that anyone could build the triangles and other Temple elements, which has helped draw a regular flow of weekend volunteers in Reno and San Francisco.

“We made everything — even the complex designs — simple, volunteer-friendly things. But what’s beautiful is you have people showing up and saying: ‘Oh, I built triangle 10!’,” says Arthur.

Drawing people together is what Temples do best, and Galaxia is no exception. Its crew has attracted people from around the globe, with Burners from England, Israel, China, France, Spain, Italy, Israel and the U.S. joining forces.

The use of two build sites — one on a private property in San Francisco and the other at The Generator, a makerspace in Reno — has also become the tale of two cities. The sites unite the traditional Temple-building hub of San Francisco with a city that has become an important hub for building Burning Man art.

(Photo by Sera Sidhe)

It Takes a (Temporary) City

Thousands of people have also helped the crew meet their fundraising goal, which has involved parties, dinners and a crowdfunding campaign with 400 backers. Most importantly, it has involved talking to people.

“Fundraising pushed us to go and speak to people, to explain why we’re doing this and why we think it’s meaningful,” says Arthur.

(Photo by Mikki Assada)

“It’s just amazing to organize all these talks and to have people ask questions, because when you’re seeking funds, people don’t just give, they explain why they give. They say that the gift is not just about financial value but emotional value.”

This community support helped the crew to meet the engineering challenges that emerged part way through the project, forcing them to revise their budget. A donation from Sergey Brin, who wanted to honor the passing of Larry Harvey, also helped the crew get over the fundraising finishing line.

“The Temple is 60 feet high and each one of those feet is holding the equivalent of seven cars, or 100 people. We realized that the forces going through the structure were so huge that we needed to add metal, quite a lot of metal. We also realized we needed a scaffolding engineer because the scaffolding is so complex,” says Arthur.

“It’s incredible to know that a piece of architecture — a symbolic structure — is financed by so many people, and I want to say a massive thank you because ultimately this Temple is theirs.”

You can also make the Temple yours by helping the crew with the second build phase. There are still places on the core teams, and volunteers are welcome to drop into the San Francisco site or The Generator. Contact the Galaxia crew via their Facebook page for more details.

About the author: Jane Lyons

Jane Lyons

Jane Lyons (a.k.a Lioness) believes it takes a special kind of crazy to drive the foundation years of a Regional Burn, and she classes herself among those crazy dreamers and (over)doers who are sweating it out around the Regional Burn globe. Since her first Nevada Burn in 2009, Jane has been knee-deep in the development of Australia's Burning Seed and its community. She built and managed Seed's Communications Team for many years, helped kickstart Melbourne Decompression and ran a range of other local events. But her Burner communities and collaborations stretch beyond the confines of her country. She helped build Temple of Transition in 2011; worked at Media Mecca in 2010; has worked on other big art projects on and off playa (including the Temple for Christchurch); and has run theme camps and built art at Nowhere, Kiwiburn and Italian Burning Weekend. She now spends her time supporting Burning Man's Communications Team in San Francisco.

4 Comments on “Temple Galaxia Is Headed to Playa One Triangle at a Time

  • Tacy Gaede says:

    This is simply, beautiful. I wish I were going this year. I’ve only done 2 burns. 2015, 2017. Each time, I was completely blown away and had wonderful art and people moments. My eyes, ears and heart were wide open. I feel like a different person now. I know many of the seasoned burners feel it’s too big and the RV scenes are bad, but I had a tent, a bike and a great community and the best time. The temple has been a hard one for me to go into, I know it is for many people. I made it in there last year. I usually ride around it for a long time, watching people go in and out before I finally make it in myself. Thank you to all who create such incredible art, experiences, volunteer, hand me coffee, beer and love. It is by far, the coolest and most incredible experience I have ever had. Humanity at it’s finest. Lots of love to you all.

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  • Nancy mccoy says:

    To Dillon Nicholson
    Papa would be so proud as all of us are. Your passion and drive is so inspirational!

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  • splat says:

    The temple lights that were done on a huge 3D printer in Reno are unbelievably complex and cosmic. Can’t wait to see them hanging.

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  • epiphanystarlight says:

    The perfect send-off for our intrepid instigator. <3

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