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Building a Hexayurt for Burning Man? Be Sure to Use the Right Tape

Burning Man, the art festival focused on self-expression, community and self-reliance, doesn't begin until August 30 this year (it runs through Sept. 7), but many are already planning their stay in the Northern Nevada desert.

This year's theme is Carnival of Mirrors and is described by press materials as "a kind of magic show that takes the form of an old-fashioned carnival." Last year, more than 66,000 people attended. Each year, the desert city - called Black Rock City - pops up from the ground, and disappears after the festival. One of the ten principle's of the festival is "leave no trace," so all structures are packed up and hauled away by participants after the fun is over.

While many live in RVs and tents over the course of the week, an eco-friendly alternative is the hexayurt. Originally designed by Vinay Gupta for a contest sponsored by Treehugger and CurrentTV (Gupta won), this shelter is now used for disaster zones and refugees. Gupta put the plans for the hexayurt in the public domain, so all the details are available for easy reference on this wiki.

There are several benefits of building your own hexayurt for Burning Man.

  • It's sturdy (75-mile an hour winds are normal in the desert).
  • It's cool and dark in the daytime.
  • It's warm at night.
  • The tape seals it from dust.
  • It's eco-friendly.
  • It's easy to pack up.
  • It embodies the spirit of self-reliance, another of the 10 principles of the festival.

Building a Hexayurt

The do-it-yourself structure can be created for less than $500 (depending on size), using some common building materials. The full list is available here, but includes sheets of insulation boards, PVC pipes, tent pegs, rope and tarp - and, of course, pressure-sensitive adhesive tape. It takes about 8 hours to build the hexayurt at home and another 1-4 hours to assemble it on the desert.

There are two types of tape you'll need for your hexayurt.

JVCC 762-BD Bi-Directional Filament TapeThe first is a 6" bi-directional tape from JVCC - the JVCC 762-BD Bi-Directional Filament Strapping Tape. This is a fiberglass reinforced polypropylene tape with a 155# tensile strength in both directions. It won't break or tear even under intense conditions, making it an ideal tape for holding together a living structure like the hexayurt. The 762-BD bidi tape also helps to reduce the amount of tape needed for your project since it has filaments in both directions of the tape; traditional filament tape is one directional only.

JVCC AF20 Aluminum Foil TapeThe second type of tape is a 3" or 4" aluminum foil, which is used to protect the bi-directional tape from UV damage. It also decreases fire risk. Our JVCC AF20 Aluminum Foil Tape is an all weather aluminum foil tape for general purpose use. It is a dead soft high tensile 2 mil thick aluminum foil coated with an aggressive acrylic adhesive system on a removable paper liner. Its malleable foil conforms well to irregular and curved surfaces, which makes it perfect for covering and sealing the seams in Hexayurt shelters. It performs well at both low and elevated temperatures and is designed for heat reflection and dissipation.

Both types of tape will withstand the sometimes extreme conditions on the Nevada desert. We don't recommend using duct tape at all in building your hexayurt. It can't withstand the heat, and you'll soon have a messy problem on your hands.

Gupta provides many detailed building plans on his wiki for hexayurts of all sizes. His wiki also has a handy tape calculator worksheet to help you determine how much tape you'll need to purchase.

But plan ahead and buy early, so you have the tape you need well in advance of building your structure.

If you need a bit of inspiration and want to see Vinay Gupta talk about hexayurt shelters, check out this video.

https://youtu.be/cIcuhF2urFo

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