Compared to 747 parts, huge yachts and giant astronaut puppets that have ornamented the Burning Man festival in years past, the temple for the upcoming 2019 event could be seen as a little understated. But it was the “elegant simplicity” of the tasteful homage to the iconic torii gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Japan that actually saw it win out over other design submissions from the community.
The Temple has been central to the Burning Man experience since it first debuted in the year 2000, 15 years after the festival’s conception. Each time The Temple takes a different form but always serves as an example of huge creativity, with the first “Temple of the Mind” made from recycled wooden dinosaur kits and 2018’s Galaxia a spectacular spiral representing the fabric of the universe.
The design for this year’s “Temple of Direction” was dreamt up by architect and artist Georgie Van Der Bosch, who spent time living in Japan and is now based in the US. It consists of series of tall, right-angled archways modeled on the famous torii style often found at traditional shrines throughout Japan, in this case the world-famous Fushimi Inari Shrine that features thousands of bright red gateways.
Measuring 180 ft (55 m) across, the Temple of Direction is made up of 26 of these torii-style gates, which begin as smaller square arches at the ends and get larger as they meet in the middle. This makes for a large hall space in the center, with tighter, more intimate spaces to be found towards the outer. Lanterns will adorn the inside and out.
As a significant gathering space for festival-goers, the Temple is not a religious center but is meant to offer folks a place to take some time out and reflect, with the 2000 installation serving as memorial to a deceased friend of the organizer and the tradition building from there. As part of that tradition, the temple will be burned on the Sunday of the festival, as thousands of attendees watch on in silence.