Large "sail-like canopy" topped Burning Man installation Archaeopteryx

Multidisciplinary group Wevolve Labs modelled its pavilion for last year's Burning Man on a bird-like dinosaur, with large wings that lit up at night and shaded seats underneath.

Archaeopteryx at Burning Man 2019

Archaeopteryx, which is named after one of the earliest types of birds, was built by Wevolve Labs for Burning Man 2019.

The installation composed of a triangular body with moving wings on top. During the festival, visitors were invited to pull at the ribs of the structure to make the canopy sway, or sit down and relax.

Archaeopteryx at Burning Man 2019

"In the spirit of Burning Man, the project was designed for collaborative interaction and participation by inviting passerby's to touch, explore, inhabit, or have a seat to talk or rest," Wevolve Labs founder Nicholas DeBruyne told Dezeen.

"It was designed to bring people together."

Archaeopteryx at Burning Man 2019

Archaeopteryx was made from CNC-cut wooden pieces that were assembled into modules off-site. Angular elements attached to the body by springs to create wings, with canvas stretched between to form a cover for benches underneath.

At night, the 25-foot-tall (7.6-metre-tall) Archaeopteryx was illuminated by LED lights along the ribs.

Colourful graphics were also cast across the fabric, with visuals reminiscent of patterns found in nature and modelled on the work of British computer scientist Allen Turing.

Archaeopteryx at Burning Man 2019

"In order to activate her fullest potential; people had to work together," DeBruyne added. "Participants could mobilise her 30-foot (nine-metre) long sail-like canopy and activate projected graphics at night."

People could also walk underneath or dance to a custom soundtrack that accompanied the installation.

Archaeopteryx at Burning Man 2019

Archaeopteryx took about two years from conception to completion, with over six months were spent on design and fabrication.

It was prefabricated in the US and freight trucked to Reno, Nevada, where parts were unpacked and then transported to Nevada desert, where it was assembled in just over one week. Over 50 people helped see the creation come to life, with a core team of 10 volunteers.

Archaeopteryx at Burning Man 2019

Burning Man 2019 took place in Nevada's Black Rock Desert from 25 August to 2 September, with other pavilions including Benjamin Langholz's circular staircase and a steel pyramid by John Marx.

Each year the temple, along with some temporary structures, is burned at the festival. But in a move to reduce the carbon footprint of the event, Burning Man has called on attendees to consider alternatives to burning.

Wevolve Labs disassembled Archaeopteryx following the event and has now made it available for hire.

Photography is by Emily Eve Shannon. Video is by Valentyn Syenin.


Project credits:

Lead designer: Nicholas DeBruyne
Technical lead: Mark Ransley
Build lead and engineer: David Smith
Creative director: Alana Hutton-Shaw
Build crew: Allison Horner, Erica DeBruyne, Marjorie and Michael DeBruyne
Videographer: Valentyn Syenin
Graphic design: Ali Vermilio
Sound design: JP Thwaits AKA HappyCat Jay
Interactive consultant: Mathias Gmachl