CORE design – Lighthouse

Lighthouse Proposal from Pyroglyphics:

In the process of coming up with our proposal  for the CORE burn, we thought portraying an icon of Coastal life would be a fun theme to explore.  After considering several options, we decided a lighthouse would be an evocative and graceful sculpture to represent Northern California’s serrated coastal region.  Their designs are myriad, but the lighthouses we have here in Humboldt County, as well as those in Mendocino and Marin County, are small in stature, so our inspiration for the design turned from literalism to a more playful and and expressive form, something we think suits the cultural environment of Burningman well.   We settled on the tall, slender design inspired by the famous Cape Neddick Lighthouse, made famous by Ansel Adams-a San Fransisco native-in his photography.  We further wondered what it might look like if Ansel Adams and M..C. Escher collaborated on an image together.  Our proposal is a sculptural musing of such a collaboration.

Our lighthouse stands 20 feet tall, with a base diameter of just under six feet, and sits off-center on an island base 63 +/- feet in  circumference.  Tall, slender, and eight-sided, it is built to 1:3 scale,  and spins 135 degree from the base to its apex, giving the lighthouse a strong and fluid ‘twist’ to its architecture. This ‘twisting’ is reinforced visually with an equal shift in the widow casings, railings, and lighthouse panes, and is dramatically punctuated by the island itself, which appears to spin as it’s own vortex, its arching lines on the surface connecting and lining up perfectly with the twisting corners of the lighthouse.  The overall effect, we hope, is that of an elegant lighthouse manipulated by a greater and playful power.  In the lens’ chamber up top, a slow spinning light rotates above the playa floor…a modest beacon for the city.

The lighthouse is constructed of 135 levels of two inch dimensional lumber stacked on its side, each level twisting one degree from the one beneath it, and shrinking by .44 inches each level, providing the lighthouse body a gentle pitch.  The first 27 levels are made of 2×12, the second 27 out of 2×10, the third 27 out of 2×8, the fourth 27 out of 2×6, and the final 27 out of 2×4.  These thick walls eliminate the need for structural framing, minimize excessive ground anchoring and rigging, and provide a robust structure that will  burn long and fierce.  A prototype was built and burned, and in the process we discovered that the burn contradicted our expectations.  Since it is wider and thicker on the bottom, the lighthouse will burn from the top down, like a candle (lending well to the over-all theme, and minimizing the burn-scar/footprint left behind after the burn).  Its shape, and concealed custom-built ‘bullet chambers’, will maximize flame height and provide more opportunity for smoke tornadoes emitted from the top.

The Island is fabricated exclusively out of driftwood (save floor joists beneath it that span its radius and connect to the base of the lighthouse).  The driftwood is laid out in concentric swirls, emanating from the lighthouse base and following  the layout of the golden ratio out to the island’s coast.  The island’s elevation is two feet at the base of the light house, and close to ground level at its circumference.  Off to one side of the island stands a weathered dock, extending out beyond the coast’s perimeter.

To match the weather worn nature of the driftwood-island, the lumber used to construct the lighthouse will be treated with a graying stain.  Our hope is to do as much as we can to the textures to suggest the lighthouse has occupied the lake bed since long before it dried up.

Night illumination at Burningman is important, both for safety and for accentuation.  To that effect, we envision the lighthouse with a blinking red light, above the lens’ chamber, the afore mentioned light within the lens’ chamber, ambient lighting emitted through the cracks and crags of the island’s driftwood, blue rope light casing the island’s circumference, and diffused blue light washing the playa around the island’s coast.

When it comes time to burn, we envision a slow controlled burn that initiates on the island’s perimeter and climaxes dramatically at the lighthouse.  Based on our experience, this style of burn will draw maximum crowd appreciation without the need for pyrotechnics (which aren’t allowed in the CORE).

A note regarding the proposal images:  though it appears that we have included glass as a building material, the design is 100% wood and hardware.

Leave a Reply