As the world contends with the climate emergency, a beacon of hope emerges from the Black Rock Desert of Northern Nevada. Burning Man Project and the Land Art Generator Initiative collaborated to create the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch design challenge, inviting innovators and creatives to propose regenerative projects for Fly Ranch, an off-grid ranch in the Great Basin. Teams were asked to integrate sustainable systems for energy, water, food, shelter, and waste management into works of art in the landscape. The aim is to build the foundational infrastructure for Fly Ranch, support Burning Man Project’s 2030 sustainability goals, engage a global audience to work together towards systemic transformation, and serve as an inspiration for the developing field of regenerative design.
Each August, the annual Burning Man event in Black Rock City transforms a desert landscape in northern Nevada into a thriving temporary metropolis fueled by creativity and experimentation. In 2016, the organization behind this city acquired Fly Ranch, a 3,800-acre property just north of the event site. This property is home to dozens of hot and cold springs, three geysers, acres of wetlands, dozens of animal species, and more than 100 identified types of plants. The Fly Ranch project is an opportunity to create a year-round rural incubator for Burning Man culture and a catalyst for innovation and creativity in the world.
CACTi by Jaeyual Lee, Haemee Han, Daeho Lee, and Beomki Lee incorporates algae photobioreactors and photovoltaic modules to contribute 137 liters of biofuel per tower per year and individual shelter while sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. Shortlisted proposal to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge.
To host residencies, gatherings, and projects at Fly Ranch, the site requires infrastructure. One option is to bring in generators, bottled water, packaged food, tents, and dispose of waste off-site. Instead Burning Man Project mobilized the desert-tested ingenuity of the Burning Man community and the inspiration of a greater creative culture through the Land Art Generator to design and build scalable and sustainable solutions for one of the harshest climates in the world. The goal is to prototype off grid solutions for a post-carbon world.
The proposals presented in the latest edition of the design challenge included:
● Spaces for human habitation and thriving that enhance wilderness habitats,
● Regenerative venues for learning, scientific discovery, and self-expression,
● Permaculture systems for food and organic products,
● Infrastructure for water harvesting and blackwater recycling,
● Innovative materials and methods for zero-emissions construction, and
● Energy infrastructure to generate power from solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass.
Infrastructural Photosynthesis: The Trees at Fly Ranch by Santiago Muros Cortés incorporates cross-laminate timber and solar photovoltaic to contribute 72 MWh/year per tree structure and engaging shelters that lift up off the ground plane to leave almost no footprint on the landscape. Shortlisted proposal to the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Challenge.
The LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch design challenge was free and open from January to October 2020. From November through February hundreds of multi-disciplinary experts reviewed and provided feedback on nearly 200 entries during an anonymous multi-stage selection process. The final jury included leaders from local Indigenous communities and experts in the fields of art, science, sociology, architecture, landscape architecture, design, engineering, education, environmental conservation, and the circular economy.
Here are some of the projects selected:
Art and creativity are the connective strings that weave these systems together in regenerative cycles of energy flow, material reuse, and productivity, aspiring to the synergies present within flourishing natural systems. Together the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch projects offer a beautiful example for how to live in sync with nature in a decarbonized world.