In the week ending on Labor Day, in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada in the United States, a festival called Burning Man takes place. In 2000, David Best created a temple for the festival—a space for grieving and spirituality. Apparently a void in the Burning Man experience, the Temple has become a centerpiece of the festival every year since. "The Man" is an art piece that is burned during a bacchanal on Saturday night. The Temple is a much more respectful affair, and it is burned to the ground on Sunday night.
The Temple of Seasons is a hypothetical temple that is intended to mimic a tree. At the beginning of the event, the Temple of Seasons would be empty as a tree in winter. Participants can add their messages to it on leaves. As the event proceeds, the leaves will fill out the tree. The participants will hopefully become attached to the Temple as it is through adding the leaves that brings it to life—each person who does so is part of its life. This participation is intended to create a sense of kinship to the Temple so that everyone can share in the emotional impact of its fiery destruction.
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Accessibility is definitely a concern as a temple that primarily exists above ground level might easily exclude participants who do not have the physical ability to climb ladders or stairs.
A mechanical elevator will permit participants to lift and lower others who do not have the physical ability to climb ladders or stairs. A governor will prevent the lift from operating too fast, and the energy to raise it would be achieved by human counterweights. Permanent counterweights would ensure the lift naturally rested at the Temple's first level to permit operation without assistance to exit, particularly in the event of an emergency.
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There's no way this will ever come to fruition. I (Zhust) am just doing it as a design exercise.
First, it would require a committed leadership team of five to ten people, of whom I know zero. I'm surly and petty and have no business leading anyone.
Second, it there are insurmountable practical concerns. Designing such a structure in ideal circumstances (where a solid foundation is possible, for instance) would be a challenge to any architect. Building it on the Playa is out of the question.
Finally, the most difficult parts are what I consider absolutely necessary for the construction: that it be a free-standing tree-like structure which people would climb upon, and which would burn in such a way that it would spontaneously collapse. If any of those critical aspects can't be met, it's not the Temple I envisioned, and I'd want no part in creating.
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The burning of the Temple is when the spiritual tension built during Burning Man is released. It is the time when the Temple transitions from "burning" to "burned." It must be an instant. Bold. Definitive.
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Trees are have been sanctuary to humans for as long as both have coexisted. Trees provide shade from the hot sun as well as shelter from wind and rain. Climbing a tree, one can escape predators and obtain a view of surrounding terrain. They exude sublime beauty—from the structure of a single leaf to the competitive harmony of a forest, they have been inspiration for artists for all time.
We have mimicked these features in our shelters and lookouts, using the very wood of the tree as raw material. Taming fire, wood was our first fuel source, changing the way we interacted with the world.
But through the most recent centuries, we have lost our respect and reverence for our friend the tree. We treat it as a resource—to be harvested, burned, wasted, farmed, sold, and consumed. We have disconnected ourselves from the life that is the trees. Trees have become a disposable commodity.
But only once we cut down the last tree will we realize our error—and we will build an artificial totem to try and recreate the trees. That is this Temple. Made of the wood of dead trees, we will it to life.
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In one sense, using pallet wood is a way to package our messages for shipment. In another, it is to embody the wood with reverence again—to pick up this disposable resource of world trade and to touch it and imbue it with respect and spiritual value once again.
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The Temple was designed to be counterbalanced so it does not need outer support on the branches. The trunk is very much larger than a traditional tree trunk for a tree of its height which hides the structures that connect the parts together as well as providing a substantial base.
During the event, the Temple will likely be further anchored anyway—no sense making things unnecessarily risky. The day of the burn, all of the tethers will be removed as it is balanced and free-standing. Wind may be an issue, but then it would be possible to retain the tethers on the windward side.
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That's not a question.
But to address the concern, there will be rope railings supported by posts around all the parts where people would be able to get to. The edge of the walking areas will have a raised lip to delineate the edge, helping to avoid people slipping off.
Of course, it will be impossible to prevent someone from climbing where they aren't supposed to go. Even here, the Temple is designed so the upper levels lie directly above the lower ones, so if one were to fall from an upper branch, they would land on the lower branch. Thus, they'd ideally only fall about 10' (3m) at any point which, while still potentially deadly, is at least an improvement over a 30' (10m) drop straight to the Playa surface.
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"Temple of Seasons" is a simple name that would be expected to appear other media. As far as we know, it has not yet been used to refer to a physical temple, structure, or sculpture. Here's some examples:
- A "Temple of Seasons" appears in a Legend of Zelda video game from 2001, but this has nothing to do with that.
- A "Temple of Seasons" is part of a video game called Secrets of Grindiea, but this has nothing to do with that.
- A "Temple of Seasons" appears in the Age of Chaos MUD, but this has nothing to do with that.
- A "Temple of Seasons" appears in the video game Neverwinter Nights 2, but this has nothing to do with that.
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