The Metamorphosis of the 2019 Man Base

As we considered the design for the base of the Man this year, we were keenly aware that this was the brainchild of our founder, Larry Harvey. Every year he convened his close comrades and cooked up the design he felt would push our edges, support the message of the theme, create a place for Burning Man participants to connect, feel inspired, and play. The Man Base needs to hold space, support the Man as the beacon of our city, and light up the night each year.

So our feelings were complicated. Wanting to honor Larry, wanting to celebrate his creative legacy, wanting to express our own inspiring message of what lives on — that we are, in fact, alive. We have changed, yes. We are changing, and the theme, Metamorphoses, speaks to that. And this Man Pavilion also opened the door for change.

Our first steps were a bit clumsy, drawing on napkins, thinking through what art would work for the theme, seizing the opportunity to craft our own exploration, and then realizing, wait a second. There’s another way. The artists. The community. The architects. What if we invited a small group of creatives to create a sketch? A basis of inspiration, a path forward, a glimpse of what could be through the eyes of these friends and family. We were making it up. Changing our methods by trying something new. We called eight phone numbers: Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti, John Marx, Andrew Johnstone, Christian Ristow, Goatt Koch and Jules Sparks, Yelena Filipchuk and Serge Beaulieu, Dave and Marrilee Archer, and Lew Zaumeyer.

These were the artists, the builders, the architects, the thinkers, the people we invited to share their vision with us. We asked only for sketches. We made no promises. We told them we were finding our way forward, planning to honor Larry by aiming high and leaping forward. We shared that we were asking them to help us in this way, and they all said yes!

On January 7, we received these sketches from these members of our community. Each artist, each sketch, is something we value as a unique expression of that person or team’s willingness to gift us, to participate in our learning, to be, well, radical. We love that, we appreciate them, and we’re excited to keep experiencing all the ways in which Burning Man can shift, change, experience, metamorphose. Next year? Who knows? We’re trying things on for good measure, learning as we go, and sharing with you as it happens.

The Submissions

Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti visioned an architecturally ornate structure to support the Man.


Architect John Marx submitted his elegant globe and winged pavilion filled with spaces for interactivity and performances.


Andrew Johnstone developed a base that would temporarily conceal the Man wrapped inside the intricate petals of a lotus flower.


Christian Ristow sketched the Man as the end product of a metamorphosing process, happening in front of your eyes.


Goatt Koch and Jules Sparks imagined the Man overlooking implements of travel, a common source of metamorphosis and change in our lives along with the organic shape of a tree.


Dave and Marrilee Archer imagined flowing organic forms supporting the Man and each other with a decidedly non-organic, intricate center core wrapped with double helix ramps.


Architect Lew Zaumeyer played with the idea of the Four Elements in relation to metamorphosis in his dodecahedron-based structure with long ramped approaches from the four cardinal points.

The Selected Design

Yelena Filipchuk and Serge Beaulieu fashioned the Man gorgeously cocooned by a winding, ascending walkway, lit at night from within, throwing patterned light across the playa.

“The cocoon is lit internally… revealing cracks from the transformation.”

We are extremely grateful to all the artists who contributed their ideas to this process. It was not an easy decision or an easy process. One thing that came up repeatedly during the evaluation was speculation whether Larry Harvey might or might not have liked any particular design element. If we learned anything in the process, it was that such things are now beyond knowing, and that we will have to make our own way forward from now on without his guidance. The design we selected is a fitting reflection of that evolution in this year of Metamorphoses.

About the author: Burning Man

Burning Man

The official voice of the Burning Man organization, managed by Burning Man's Communications Team.

88 Comments on “The Metamorphosis of the 2019 Man Base

  • Stephen Bissinger says:

    LOVE IT!

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  • H.G. Crosby says:

    he has come of age
    it is time for him to fly
    metamorphosis

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  • OK says:

    I love the breaking free from the cocoon aspect.

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  • dani says:

    Nice. But alter-abled accessible?

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    • Slim says:

      Strongly seconded. If I have one hope for future Man Base designs, it would be meaningful accessibility.

      Report comment

      • HYBYCOZO says:

        Thank you for the feedback, this is just a sketch and we will definitely work with bmorg to make it accessible. The staircases can easily be transformed to ramps

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      • Sextant has used VR forklifts and climbing gear to bring people up the tower, and even down the Zipline. We definitely encourage the builders to embrace exciting solutions and not feel like they have to “Dumb it Down.” You’ve got HEaT, go ballistic!

        https://youtu.be/XumTCVFMLxw

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      • Paul Henderson says:

        As a part of Man Watch crew I must express the need for access. I heard many complaints about a lack of access.

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      • Sketch says:

        It looks like the designer addresses, in theory, the idea of accessibility in a reply… But where HYBYCOZO is speaking for the design talk when saying, “this is just a sketch and we will definitely work with bmorg to make it accessible. The staircases can easily be transformed to ramps,” that sounds distinctly nieve. I hope they get to work on that *immediately*. An accessible ramp is a 1ft run per 1in rise with flat/level areas every 8′ to rest and prevent run-away chairs. If the figures in that sketch are to scale, that’s at least 500′ of ramp to get to the first level. And the ramp in the egg will be too steep to be accessible still. This looks like a cool idea, but not at all a design that can “easily” be made accessible. I hope they and bmorg take that challenge seriously and start putting the time in on that *now.*

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      • Paige says:

        It seems that this design could accommodate human assisted elevator(s) nicely. I can see so many great opportunities for communal help in raising and lowering them, or even self powered through a series of gears. It could even be human ballast driven, meaning that people going down would need to be slightly heavier than those going up. Could be an interesting social experiment in the functioning.

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      • Eagle Eye says:

        I love Paige’s idea. I was thinking along the same lines. Perhaps a “dumb-waiter” kinda human-assisted lift. It could even have an electric assist with battery and solar charging.

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    • Stitch says:

      I must agree with all the comments about accessibility. I barely made it up the Man base last year…once. Too many stairs, too steep.

      Otherwise, it’s a great, innovative design.

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    • Glimmer says:

      I agree with desire to be accessible to those with more limited mobility. It was very hard to climb last year’s stairs and these appear to be even more narrow which will make it more difficult for those requiring assistance to ascend. Unlike last year, there doesn’t seem to be much to engage at the floor level. “Radical Inclusion” shouldn’t only apply to those that can climb. Please consider having interactive art at least around the man to help create a central gathering place that everyone can enjoy.

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    • Gresvig says:

      Of course not! Any accomidation would mar the lines if the steep and majestic stairs, and would clearly obscure the vision of BM as a place for beautiful twenty-something trust fund babies and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. As part of the overall theme of radical self reliance, you’ll be expected to rig a lift of some kind if you’d like to get close to the man. Just remember, the structure has been designed with strict weight limits, so no fatties, either. Good luck!

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  • Michel says:

    Wow, superb and excellent choice- kudos ♥ ♥ ♥

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  • Sunshine says:

    These are beautiful designs.

    For the selected base, will there be a ramp up to the first viewing platform? It appears as if there are just staircases in each of the four legs…

    Shouldn’t we ensure that those with ADA and mobility issues have a way to access that? The Man is for ALL!

    I was truly surprised that the 2018 man base did not have a ramp…

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  • Marko says:

    Each submission was beautiful and reflective but love the selection!

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  • Slim says:

    Given the beauty and vision of these designs, for any one of them Larry would doubtless have found something to love, something to critique and, most importantly, something about which to tell a long and fascinating story, placing the entire endeavor into a context far stranger and more all-encompassing than any of us would ever have expected.

    This seemingly limitless talent for mythic contextualization was both Larry’s gift and his life’s devotion; the work of carrying that unbounded vision forward now falls to us.

    The ambitious poetry of these structures suggest that we are more than up to the task.

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  • Hipolito. Medrano says:

    The man always looks as he should. -hipolito

    Excellent work, can’t wait.

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  • joe corley says:

    incredible design and I love it! Also I would add to the others about alter able beings needing to get up there… Let us not forget

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  • Leticia Pinero says:

    Beautiful cannot wait to see it!

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  • DeerKimmy says:

    It’s wonderful, so many great idea! The shape look like a egg, a new beginning for sure, Let’s see where the metamorphosis bring us !!!!

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  • Shame says:

    So the base is going to exclude part of the community once again. Nicely done!

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    • Glucose says:

      Perhaps a different thought. Give alter-abled folks something more. Something that only they get, as opposed to the typical thing where they only get partial access to what abled folks get.

      Special motorized seats going up slides/rails/tracks on the outside or upper edges.

      (Like the stairway lifts?) Only for alter-abled folks.

      So for once they are getting the best view. They are getting more than the abled folks, instead of just a piece of the action.

      The abled folks climb ladders on the inside(but get less of a view).

      Alter-abled folks get a 360 degree view of the playa and the man as their seats climb the spiral on a rail/track on the upper edge of the spiral.

      Just trying to think about how everybody gets to have their cake and eat it, too.

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  • Reggie Two Skins says:

    Wow – How they will build this without a steel structure (as in its burnable) is beyond me – as an architect all the designs ( Bar the Andrew Johnstone concept) seems remotely feasible as a construction on playa,

    @burning man – Also – how does anyone who is not able to climb 60 stairs able to get up and down ? it seems really ill thought out as a design goes.

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  • Lucia says:

    Holy cow these are crazy and Amazing!!!

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  • Katie says:

    Great design! Regarding accessibility, what if instead of a ramp there were two platforms or small pods connected with a pulley system that would transport one individual (with mobility limitations) at a time up to the top? This might also be supportive the original design layout.

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    • Glucose says:

      Or make it a motorized track that is an unending loop.

      Goes up on the outside, comes back down on the inside(or goes up the top edge, then hangs from the bottom edge going down?)

      That way you can haz several of the pods, traveling around the track/loop, so it’s not just one alter-abled person getting the view at a time.

      Maybe allow kids, too?

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  • This is awe-inspiring. Thanks for sharing the process!!!

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  • John (Ives) Schultz says:

    Please make ADA compliant! Mobility Camp will give you a dusty hug if you do!

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  • chikken-takken says:

    I love it but gawddemmit, is it metamorphoses or metamorphosis.

    I SEE 2019 BUTTERFLIES, EVERYWHERE

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  • Elise Marlin says:

    These are incredible!! Can’t wait to see them once completed.

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  • Popeye says:

    It needs a slide. Otherwise great.

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  • Spacetime says:

    This looks like it will be super grand. Very mice to see the different submissions also. Very much looking fw to the man this year.

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  • splat says:

    So much great thought in all of the designs. Big props to everyone who contributed.

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  • Adi Merschon says:

    Regarding accessibility, a pulley system with 2 gondolas could be built on one of the legs where tbe power to bring one gondola up is made up by able people going down on the other gondola , and balancing more weight going down to bring the one going up.
    With continuous flow of people to the man this will also bring people toretogwther to help those with limited mobility.

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  • Jane says:

    Is the man gonna morph into a woman?

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  • Berta Hodges says:

    Congratulations!!!! This is beautiful! Where are you going to build it before the Playa?

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  • Tourist says:

    Gorgeous design, excellent choice

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  • Japhy says:

    With wind and stairs you are going to have a tough time getting this up to code without many tons of steel. Perhaps a level or two but no way on the spiral.

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  • Janet Bunny says:

    Can we make the Man smaller because racism.

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  • Andy says:

    ADA access can easily be provided via a scissor lift accessible via ramp at the base and a handrail access point at the base. I see no easy way to allow access further than the mid level platform though.

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  • LOVE, LOVE this Man base!! Can’t wait to see it!!

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  • Roger says:

    With regard to access, the underlying assumption is that this Man should be climbable. Another approach is simply to omit this feature, which has not been a necessary feature in the past. Then you can eliminate the non-burnable steel and all the safety measures necessary for a human-accommodating structure, but fully retain the artists’s vision and the beauty, which is more appreciated from outside than inside anyway. Just sayin’

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  • Harry says:

    looks great , cool if he had wings

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  • Eric says:

    So the man is what will pop out of the Instagram egg?

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  • Rio says:

    I’m sure the Man will be wonderful.

    BUT… is this representative of some sort of a gigantic Ron Popeil potato peeler kitchen gadget?

    Do you want fries with that?

    Report comment

  • Meredith Suarez says:

    Have u ever thought of a women? Or perhaps the hint of a dress? The cocoon made me think of it. All of the ideas were beautiful ! And the man will be exactly what it needs to be and I am sure Larry is looking down and is impressed.

    Thank you for all you do to make Burning man and black rock city happen.

    * fulll disclosure I did not read All the comments so u may have already addressed my above question. But again… thank you

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  • roissy says:

    It should be one of the more interesting builds…
    It seems to be four stories tall to the main platform, BM should look into renting a Temporary Construction Elevator, considering you would need 720′ of ramp to be ADA compliant to a 60′ height…

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  • Willy says:

    The birth (or rebirth) of the Man coming out of his cocoon. Very beautiful creation.
    Like many, doubts about access .

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  • Zippo says:

    As someone who’s worked on building the Man and Man Bases for over 10 years, it’s beautiful, very beautiful—a knockout, in fact. BUT, is it doable?? Structurally, I mean. We all remember the Da Vinci’s workshop fiasco where the Man Base was beautifully designed, but just too ambitious to pull off. The folks who are tasked with translating this great design into reality really have a job ahead of them. Better start making steel braces and pre-fabricating wood parts in February. And that’s not even addressing the other-capable access issues. But Goatt’s a great builder—-very capable guy. Best of luck!

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  • Absolutely the inclusiveness that making the spirals next to the man able to be climbed; by being able to access the spirals at the same level as the man, rather than just being below him, it makes the man more like one of us, rather than separate from us.

    I like the direction this went, and the psychological feeling of inclusiveness in the metamorphosis base knocks it not just out of the park, but all over the playa!

    Well done!!

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  • Canary says:

    Where are all the interactive and playfull man surrondings where you can actually play, learn, interact, jam sessions, dance, etc .. ?

    Bring back all that áreas of JOY !! For example the rooms and surprises we had in Carnival of Mirrors or Davinci Workshop!!

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  • Dave Klaus says:

    Gorgeous! And go HYBYCOZO !!!

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  • Christian Ristow says:

    Holy cr*p these designs are all amazing… hats off to all those who submitted and I’m humbled and honored to be amongst you.

    I feel compelled to mention that the text explanation accompanying my submission suggested a “forest” of many of these organic conical shapes, each one culminating in some version of, or fragment of the Man… and containing intimate spaces for exhibits and performances. I only drew four to enhance clarity. Haha, I should have drawn it the way I saw it!

    I think the thing I like the best about HYBYCOZO’s design is that egg-ramp, allowing people to ascend alongside the MAN, giving a real feeling of intimacy and equality with HIM. Such a cool idea (!) that I don’t think has ever been done before…

    Excellent choice, committee, it’s going to be beautiful!
    Nice work everyone, and congrats Yelena and Serge!

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  • Thalia Kirchwehm says:

    They are all beyond creative, dramatic and well well thought out pieces! I was unaware that there were so many entries and each one of them had their own vibration and intense creativity! I am happy with the decision but I would have been happy with any of them, they are all beautiful works of art!

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  • LaLee Faro says:

    YES, YES, YES! We are emerging from the LOVE of POWER, to the POWER of LOVE!!!
    Can barely wait to celebrate our TRANSFORMATION brothahhhs and seeStars of the playa!!!!

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  • Marzipan says:

    One delightful aspect of the “Metamorphoses” theme — exemplified by this transparent selection process and (moreover) the chosen design is that we all get to grow together, and watch our fellow artists develop and transform each year. Yelena & Serge have been on an artistic journey, always taking things to the next level, and it is an absolute treat to see them flourishing with this design, continuing to be nourished by BMorg & the BM Arts department. The hatching symbolism applies to their own journey as artists, and it is nice to see what their little geometric lanterns have been pupating into. Bravo!

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  • Hiya on the Playa says:

    John Marx’s design is stunning, and I hope he gets to make it reality somewhere, some day!

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  • Playa design love says:

    Love the design!

    It’s worth thinking carefully about “how accessible” to make the Man. Everything else being equal, more accessible is definitely better. But does this mean that we don’t add a design feature only because such a feature wouldn’t be accessible to 7% [1] of Burners?

    In other words, do we prevent 100% of Burners from getting something merely this would be a thing that 7% of Burners *can’t* get?

    We can’t pretend that making everything 100% accessible is cost-free. In fact, achieving 100% accessibility might be infinitely expensive. There will be a cost, whether that cost takes the form of design spaces that are excluded, or the economic cost of functionality that needs to be added. There will always be individuals excluded — from the cognitively impaired to those with a BMI over 60.

    If we allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good, then we’ll get very little good because perfect almost always means “impossible”.

    As another commenter suggested above, might there be an alternative way to provide accessibility that’s special to the mobility impaired? E.g., access via a crane/crow’s nest? Or perhaps with a neat kind of winch apparatus available exclusively to the those who couldn’t otherwise ascend? Even better, if they’re available, would be to make stair-climbing chairs available (perhaps only temporarily).

    Let’s not make getting to 100% accessibility prevent getting to something that can be appreciated by 90%+

    [1] http://www.disabilitystatistics.org/reports/acs.cfm

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  • Design playa love says:

    Love the design!

    In the conversation about accessibility I hope we can consider the question of “how accessible”, and not look at it as a binary yes/no issue.

    Everything else being equal, more accessible is definitely better. But does this mean that we don’t add a design feature only because such a feature wouldn’t be accessible to perhaps 7% [1] of Burners?

    In other words, do we prevent 100% of Burners from getting something merely this would be a thing that 7% of Burners *can’t* get?

    We can’t pretend that making everything 100% accessible is cost-free. In fact, achieving 100% accessibility might be infinitely expensive. There will be a cost, whether that cost takes the form of design possibilities that are excluded, or the economic cost of functionality that needs to be added. While we try for radical inclusion, this can sometimes be in tension with radical self-expression. While we can try, there will inevitably always be individuals excluded — from the cognitively impaired to those with a BMI over 60.

    As another commenter suggested above, might there be an alternative way to provide accessibility that’s special to the mobility impaired? E.g., access via a crane/crow’s nest? Or perhaps a neat kind of winch apparatus available exclusively to the those who couldn’t otherwise ascend? Even better, if they’re available, would be to make stair-climbing chairs available.

    If we allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good, then we’ll get very little good because perfect “to everyone” is almost always impossible.

    [1] Disability Statistics org website

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    • Desert Silence says:

      I’m troubled by this argument, which, if I understand it, boils down to the idea that if “only” 7% of burners would be excluded, that’s ok.

      OK. How about if 9% of burners would be excluded? 12% 50% ? When do the numbers of alter abled burners get to be big enough that we should notice them? Even taking your number, 7% is about 5,000 people. And I guarantee that among the remaining 63,000 burners there are plenty who, although they are not formally disabled, would find this number of stairs to be a barrier.

      The numbers game you are playing here would exclude the alter abled from all structures and activities where they are not the majority or nearly so. That isn’t what accessibility is supposed to mean.

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  • Gustavo Oenning says:

    Burning Man aesthetics has become heavy and maximalist. I really wish there were a different art curatorship to bring back amazing artists such as Arne Quinze. I am a fan of Minimal and Modern art/architecture and I am not a fan of any of these project submissions.

    :-(

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  • Gustavo Oenning says:

    BTW clearly John Marx submission should be the one selected. IMO it’s the most innovative design and probably the most robust.

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  • designace says:

    Well everyone wants to the interior designing house because the house looking beautiful every person like you and also your status is high every person look respectful but every time different designing finding too tough I’ll suggest website go and look tell me your experience how is it? designace

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  • Shaman says:

    It looks Steep. I’m hoping you have some handrails or climbing rope. Other than that it’s perfect.

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  • Chris Carter says:

    All very brilliant ideas!

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  • ps4 vr games says:

    really great that i see this article on your website.

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  • guides says:

    love your article and happy to see the relevant blog articles

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  • Don’t worry and just go, because there will be me there.

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  • It has been a long time that I have not met, but that figure still holds in my heart

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