The Bottlecap Gazebo was an installation made for Burning Man 2012. It was led by Max Poynton and Andrew Grinberg with the help of a dedicated crew and about a hundred volunteers. Fabricated in a combination of Oakland and San Francisco, it was a two story wooden gazebo in the shape of a lotus flower with petals made out of bottlecaps sown together with wire and a fire poofer in the center. After Burning Man, it was installed in Fernley, Nevada.
It was funded with a kickstarter.
The theme of Burning Man 2012, Fertility 2.0, calls to mind the idea of rebirth and renewal. The Bottlecap Gazebo showcases the endless possibilities of artistic resurrection through the repurposing of discarded materials into the form of a beautiful structure. In the Gazebo, an everyday object – the bottlecap – is transformed into a shimmering flower canopy, a blooming new life form, a beautiful miracle of nature.
The Bottlecap Gazebo is a social meeting place, providing a space to interact with others. Gatherings of every kind, planned and spontaneous, can be discovered in and around it both day and night. It is a sculpture to look at, climb on, sit inside, and shoot fire out of. It is a place to experience a quiet sunrise, or a throw a raucous dance party. Its environment will grow and evolve with the help of fellow Burners who can participate in creating their own bottlecap art with which to adorn the structure.
As you approach the Bottlecap Gazebo from afar, it appears as a lotus-like flower of many colors floating in the distance upon a canopy of eight petals curving down to the earth and eight leaves curving up to the sky. When you get closer, the eight-sided Gazebo comes into view, and you can ascend the concentric stairway to the ground floor to get a closer look. Here you discover comfortable bench seating on six of the eight sides oriented inward to accommodate conversation and outward to invite views of the open playa and interaction with the city itself. The lower level is a meeting place to sit and relax or mingle and be social.
In the center of the Gazebo, you notice a ladder leading up to the second story. These solid steps lead up to an observation deck with railings around its perimeter. Elevated thirteen feet above the playa, it is a wonderful vantage point from which to gaze out across Black Rock City. Those who climb up are rewarded with close-up views of the bottlecap workmanship and the opportunity to control the sculpture’s flame effects. The simple press of a button will shoot a 30 foot fireball into the sky above.
The bottlecap canopy of the Gazebo provides decoration, shade and sculpture. Eight large petals made of bottlecaps extend ten feet off from each side of the Gazebo’s second floor and hang down four feet to be inspected from below. Eight large leaves curve upward, rising four feet above the second story, between each of these petals. From the center of the upper level rises a massive lotus-inspired bottlecap flower, about six feet tall and five feet in diameter at its base. This centerpiece is the container for the Gazebo’s flame effect, which erupts fire into the night sky. Participants climb up to the second story to activate the poofer using a simple button.
In total, the Gazebo contains over 75,000 bottle caps collected from friends, local bars and breweries. To construct the petals and leaves, each cap is flattened, punched with holes and woven to the next with steel wire. The petals are stretched over steel frames for support and shape. This construction technique allows the petals to cast beautiful patterned shadows on the playa.