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.”
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.
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.
“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.