Get Your Shinto On

Burning Man's 2019 temple gets back to basics

When seen head-on, the 2019 Burning Man temple will resemble layered torii gates. (Geordie Van Der Bosch/Courtesy of Burning Man)

The central temple for Burning Man 2019 has been revealed, and architect Geordie Van Der Bosch has chosen to keep the building simple and linear. As opposed to last year’s digitally-fabricated, fractal-invoking Galaxia, 2019’s Temple of Direction references traditional Japanese torii gates and presents a clear entrance and exit.

Burning Man takes place on the “playa” of Black Rock Desert in Nevada every August, and 70,000 attendees are expected to crowd into the temporary Black Rock City this year. The theme for 2019 is “Metamorphosis,” and the Temple of Direction is appropriately supposed to represent a journey for the viewer.

The 180-foot-long, 37-foot-wide, 36-foot-tall temple specifically references the gates of the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine in Kyoto, Japan. Visitors will pass through a narrow opening that gradually widens to a great hall in the center of the temple before they pass into an open-air gap and exit through the other end. The four entrances to the temple have also been aligned to the four cardinal directions, and the entire installation will be encircled by eye-shaped fencing.

Rendering of the 2019 Burning Man temple

The temple’s entrances will be aligned to the four cardinal directions, and the open-air segment will form a “pupil” inside the eye-shaped fencing. (Geordie Van Der Bosch/Courtesy of Burning Man)

According to the Burning Man Journal, “This linear form reflects the passage of life with its beginning, middle, and end. Throughout the structure, there are areas that reflect this journey: narrow & wide spaces, bright & dark spaces, and tunnels that create intimate physical settings. Meanwhile, a large central hall, an altar, and many shelves for offerings create the setting for our collective experience.”

The San Francisco–based Van Der Bosch has lived in England and Japan previously (near the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine his temple is based on). He’s also an avid Burning Man attendee, having been to seven previous festivals.

Rendering of the 2019 Burning Man temple

The Temple of Direction will open to the sky in the middle. (Geordie Van Der Bosch/Courtesy of Burning Man)

Interested in helping realize the Temple of Direction? Festival organizers are currently looking for volunteers to help fabricate the temple in Oakland, California, and will begin fundraising to cover the construction costs soon. Of course, as is the Burning Man way, the entire temple will be set on fire and razed when the festival ends on September 2.

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