Black Rock City provides an exceptional model for an effective human-scaled builtenvironment complete with strong civic engagement. Burning Man participants autonomously construct innovative, creative public and private spaces that generate deeper cultural questions about community values, social relationships, auto-independent modalities and city growth. While the basic urban site layout is inorganic, within gated perimeters participants freely challenge traditional city planning norms by demonstrating clear rejections to the status quo. Instead, experimenting with self-reliance in harsh physical constraints reconceptualizes the built environment and allows for reinterpretation and mocking of failing default sub/urban places. Innovative and adventurous, Black Rock City can serve as a colorful reminder of how grand urban design elements from utopian models can be workable with an ephemeral, radical twist.
Kerry Rohrmeier, doctoral candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno Department of Geography, wants passionately to introduce more cities to successful city planning ideas and lessons from the Burning Man festival. As a former professional land use planner Kerry now actively conducts ethnographic fieldwork and participatory observation out at Black Rock City to support ongoing cultural geography graduate research.