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responsive design studio

The Cone ‘The Cone’ is the final project of Manuel Kretzer and Hans Sachs, who have studied architecture at the University of Karlsruhe, Germany. Over the period of one year an interactive, temporary art installation for the ‘Burning Man’ Project 2007 - ‘The Green Man’ in Nevada, USA had been developed and realized. ‘The Cone’ is the resulting nine meter high rotating structure made of PVC-tubes. It is ought to produce its own energy with manual kinetic force which then is used for an effective night illumination.



Burning Man’ is an annual art event that takes place in ‘Black Rock City’, a temporary settlement in the desert of Nevada, USA during the last week of August. This ‘experiment in community’ as it is described by organizers gives any participant the opportunity to radical self expression. The rules within the community are basically reduced to safety issues and structures such as the regulation of spaces and movement. Therefore the event is not only remarkable in terms of the given opportunities to be creative in various ways but it also forms a society which is sociologically and psychologically very complex. The functionality of the collective is generally funded on the self reliance of every individual inhabitant of the temporal city.

9:00 plaza ‘The Cone’ Camp ‘The Cone’ Setup Site

Center Camp


Map of ‘Burning Man’ 2007 ‘Black Rock City’


3:00 plaza ‘The Man’ ‘The Playa’

‘Camps and Villages’

5 Manuel Kretzer and Hans Sachs 2007

Various facts influenced the idea behind ‘The Cone’. The most important surely was to create an art piece that could be constantly experienced in many ways and that transforms the passive viewer into an active ‘user’. Furthermore, it should attract people with its visual appearance and refer to the theme ‘The Green Man’. Due to special requirements such as long distance shipping, general world politics and local circumstances at the construction site, the structure needed to be light and elementary as well as cheap in transportation and material expenses.



The main idea behind ‘The Cone’ was to create a project that was highly interactive; it was to be a structure that merged with its user, that transformed the user and was transformed itself while being used. The event seen as an immense adult playground formed the idea of creating another folly for pleasure seeking inhabitants. The carousel implies the perfect requirements for an interactive art piece. The participant can either actively push and control the structure or lounge inside while enjoying the effect a pushing person creates.



The 2007 theme ‘The Green Man’ was a fitting topic in times of global warming and rising pollution to create an ecological awareness among the participants. The perfect location enabled participants to reflect on the common human lifestyle and at the same time experiment with ideas and concepts that could lead towards a new way of considering the environment. The idea behind ‘The Cone’ strove to reveal how human power can be transformed into electricity and to create an insight into how much force is needed to produce energy. Therefore the project was ought to provide its own power source in form of a dynamo which generates electricity while people or wind push the structure. This energy should be stored in batteries and used for night illumination.



Another conceptual approach concerned the visual effect of the art piece. At ‘Burning Man’ the participants like wandering around randomly and visiting and seeing strange and crazy things. This is why the appearance of the structure at day and especially at night - had to create an iconic sculpture that was unique in its recognition. ‘The Cone’ consisted of a two layer construction. The outer layer turned around the fixed cone inside. While rotating, the two overlapping layers created an interference effect because of the special construction. This effect suggested to the people inside the cones that they were perhaps inside a giant machine. At some point as the structure turned the visitor started turning himself.





Manuel Kretzer is an architect and designer from Germany. He studied architecture at the Universities of Dresden, South Australia and Karlsruhe, where he graduated in 2008 with an interactive pavilion for the Burning Man Festival. He worked as Research and Teaching Assistant at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Karlsruhe and later he was employed with Philip Beesley Architect Inc. in Toronto, Canada. Since March 2010 he works at the Chair of CAAD at the ETH in Zürich. His focus lies on temporary, interactive art and architecture he has realized a number of large scale sculptures and installations.

Hans Sachs is research and teaching assistant at the School of Architecture at the University of Applied Sciences, Cologne. At the chair ‚CAD/CAM’ of Prof. Oliver Fritz he works in the field of appliance of medias in the architectural design processes and experimental building.

Publications and Press Reviews:

Osram Showroom (08.2007) ‘The Cone’ shines over Black Rock City RaumK - Kunst- und Kulturzeitung für Karlsruhe (08.2007) ‘The Cone’ DBZ Deutsche Bauzeitschrift (09.2007) Kunstbauwerk mit Dynamo Georg Fischer - Die gute Verbindung (09.2007) The Cone Lappgroup - Kabelwelt (09.2007) Energie-Kegel mit Lapp Der Ausnahmeverlag, Hamburg (05.2008) ‘The Cone - interactive architecture for Burning Man’ (05. 2009) ‘The Cone’, Black Rock City



responsive design studio

Manuel Kretzer, 2009

The Cone  

'The Cone' was made of a two layer structure according to the principals of russian engineer Vladimir Shukhov. The inner cone was fixed to a...