Oasis - Burning Man

Nevada Desert, USA

Co-lead Architect (+ Otis Sloan Brittain, Ben Stuart Smith, Laurence Hiller)


Burning Man




"A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in - what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars." – Victor Hugo


In the Oasis, a terrarium installation in the desert, you are engulfed into a unique self-sustaining microcosm of plant life. Burners can rest, explore and happen upon a chance encounter. From a distance, Oasis takes the form of a suspended crystal in the desert. After nightfall, it organically transforms into a beacon, projecting silhouettes of its occupants. Prior to construction the site is plotted to cardinal points, to align with the cyclical rhythms of the sun. Recycled aluminium sections are slotted together to form an exoskeleton which is in turn tied to the suspended reinforced tarpaulin to create the translucent inner sanctum. Taking inspiration from the concept of the terrarium, within Oasis is planted flowering cacti, ferns and tropical plants to generate a closed ecosystem. Water evaporates from the plants, condenses on the outer skin and filters down into the base, to again be drawn up by the plants.

Oasis aims to provide an immersive and refreshing atmosphere for Burners and a temporary haven from the harsh environmental conditions of the desert. AMASS has created Oasis both as a space for contemplation and as an immersive environment which is both sculpturally engaging and a playful addition to the festival skyline. Burners are encouraged to interact with Oasis both during the day and as it transforms after nightfall. After dark, light points at structural intersections illuminate the inside of Oasis to cast theatrical shadows on the outer skin as the installation acts as a beacon. Poles are lit with strips of LED lamps to give a neon glow.

The ecosystem generated within Oasis will develop during the festival and adapt to light conditions and moisture content in the air as Burners occupy the installation. Individual plants are not signposted as objects of observation, but viewed as a playful totality in which to experience directly. Vegetation will be laid out in a way in which to inform sequences of contrasting spaces and pathways. There will be areas for people to sit alone or in small groups and pass through the space as they wish. Plants will be sourced sustainably (we are currently exploring potential collaborations with greenhouse projects in San Francisco). All plant life will be sourced sustainably and returned with upmost care. The small volume of sand dug from the playa for the base will be returned to its original position when the structure is disassembled.