Dezeen Magazine

Join a tour of Arthur Mamou-Mani's Catharsis amphitheatre in virtual reality on 8 June

Join a virtual-reality tour of Arthur Mamou-Mani's Catharsis amphitheatre on Monday 8 June

Virtual Design Festival and Arthur Mamou-Mani Architects have teamed up to invite readers to visit a temporary amphitheatre designed for this year's Burning Man festival in virtual reality.

The tour, which will be broadcast live on Dezeen, will take place at 4:00pm UK time on Monday 8 June. It will follow a live interview between French architect Mamou-Mani and Dezeen founder and editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs.

"Fractal amphitheatre"

Catharsis is a "fractal amphitheatre" made of timber modules. Its geometry attempts to blur the distinction between spectators and performers.

It was designed for this summer's Burning Man, a festival held each summer at Black Rock City, a temporary city built in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, USA.

Arthur Mamou-Mani will lead a virtual tour of Catharsis as part of VDF

In 2018, Mamou-Mani designed Galaxia, the main temple at the festival, which was burned as the event's finale.

This year, he teamed up with Therme Art to develop a pavilion that would be inaugurated at the festival and then deconstructed and rebuilt elsewhere instead of being burned.

However, this year's festival was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, so Mamou-Mani put out a call via Dezeen for game developers to help him realise the amphitheatre in virtual reality.

Project realised in virtual reality

"Burning Man has challenged the community to come up with ideas for a virtual version of the event this August," he told Dezeen at the time.

"Therefore, similar to Dezeen's Virtual Design Festival, these are opportunities for us architects and artists to re-invent our relationship to space."

Join a tour of Arthur Mamou-Mani's Catharsis amphitheatre in virtual reality on 8 June
Mamou-Mani created a VR version of his pavilion after Burning Man was cancelled

Since then, Arthur has received emails from game designers, artists, companies volunteering to help and collaborate. He also discovered several different, unofficial versions of Burning Man have been created in virtual reality.

The architect will explain how the virtual project was realised on the 8 June tour, which will also visit a VR version of Galaxia.

How to join the tour

PC users can experience Catharsis via an avatar by downloading the free AltSpaceVR app from the Microsoft Store, or on their VR headsets.

AltspaceVR is a "social VR" platform owned by Microsoft. The free version allows users to meet and collaborate in virtual environments.

Join a tour of Arthur Mamou-Mani's Catharsis amphitheatre in virtual reality on 8 June
Mamou-Mani's Galaxia temple has been resurrected in VR

Ahead of the tour, add Mamou-Mani's user name "mamoumani" as a friend in the app. From 4:00pm UK time on Monday 8 June, you can join the group by pressing "Go to user" next to Mamou-Mani's name in your online friends.

Readers without access to the app or headset, and Mac users, will be able to watch the tour via live video. If you have any problems joining or viewing the tour, please use the comments section below.

"Incredible things are happening" in VR

The pandemic lockdown has encouraged architects to explore virtual reality as a way of designing, collaborating and even socialising.

"Incredible things are happening," in VR due to the pandemic, said Lara Lesmes of architect Space Popular, an architecture studio that has pioneered the use of virtual reality in its projects.

"We spend a lot of time in VR," said the London studio's Fredrik Hellberg. "I think we probably both met more new people during the lockdown than we normally would."