About Archimedes

Archimedes Design is the artist team of Michael Gates and Toby Vann, with periodic collaboration from other artists, designers, and builders. Michael and Toby have been working together for well over a decade as the heads of several projects all focused on the mission of zoological integration of body, mind, and community. Their life mission is focused on anything that creates solutions for how to be a better human.

Building geodesic domes began in 2013 when they were challenged to develop a better festival structure, specifically a dome, for their theme camp at Burning Man. They identified a set of functional design criteria, including ease of construction, step-and-repeat (modular) process, ability to customize appearance, accessibility of materials, and safer installation and strike for builders. 

The most impressive factor of their design is the dome's portability, which includes ease of set up and strike. With a team as small as one or two, a dome can be installed in well under an hour, and strikes in less time. This ease of setup is what sets this design apart from any geodesic dome like it, making it viable enough for even a day or weekend festival. 

After they were awarded a Golden Rebar Award at Burning Man 2013 and an Editor's Choice award at Maker's Faire 2013, they realized they had something important to share. Their design generated so much interest that they began hand-crafting domes for communities besides themselves.

These domes are intended to help others make their own creative spaces that support community gathering. The frame system and modular parts provide the ability to envision a multitude of environments by presenting the surface area of the dome as a canvas. With the sacred geometrical shapes and sheltering enclosures, the dome is an archetypal space that feels comforting and yet divine. 

This year at Gratitude Migration

Although the frame engineering of these domes is compelling, without art these domes do not fulfill their purpose. Because of this Archimedes is always focused on the partnership with their clients and collaborators to help the skeleton of these domes be turned into full artworks.

Drawn to the functionality of the structure, Gratitude Migration approached Archimedes and used one of the domes at their event. That initial partnership led to this year's coming installation of nine Archimedes domes. Excited to find the Burning Man spirit in New York, Toby and Michael are bringing these domes as a gift to the community. The focus this year is to use the domes as nomadic temples, with the intention to provide focal points for spiritual migration. 

Fire Dome

In addition to Archimedes Design, Toby is also a fire performer in the NYC fire community. His collaboration with Chris Flambeaux and Cinder Petrichor, along with meeting Corey Glen of Incendia at Love Burn 2016, sparked the idea for the Fire Light Temple project. 

The Fire Dome will be part of an ongoing collaboration between Incendia and Flambeaux Fire. Drawn to the shadow play on the shade stars of the dome, the original concept for this space was to build an intimate shadow theatre. This dome will feature a fire table, where Flambeaux Fire will conduct rituals throughout the event. 



With fire running across a bed of sand, this art piece will be a space where people who wouldn’t normally have access to fire ritual will be able to experience the intensity and beauty of controlled flame. 

Black Light Dome

This project is a collaboration with artists Tico Chango and Paul Anthony Mantia. Toby met Tico at the content planning meeting for Gratitude Migration, and the partnership seemed a natural fit. 

This will the first custom-dyed, UV-reactive installation inside of an Archimedes dome. Inside of the custom dyed tent, visionary painters will be completing paintings throughout the weekend. Combining visionary art with the sacred geometry embedded in the dome architecture, this dome will facilitate a resonant experience for painters and participants alike. 

 Tico Chango

Tico Chango

Visionary art illustrates the evasive and subtle experiences associated with spiritual exploration. Making this work accessible to others is a valuable contribution to the fabric of society and the future of the planet. Archimedes also believes there's a need for portable temples to better serve a nomadic culture. They want more people to feel capable of establishing their own temples. 

Wellness Village

The Wellness Village is a contiguous complex of four domes for use as a studios, class rooms and lecture spaces. It will be an enclosure where the intention will be on cultivating well-being for oneself and others. The domes will provide a focus for the activities and gatherings within, without cutting those inside off from the environment outside. 

The outside of the temple will be painted by artist Jodi Sharp. Jodi began collaborating with Archimedes in 2014, when Toby was introduced to her work through the Montreal Burner Decompression. Jodi’s practice often focuses on mobile sacred spaces and was thrilled when introduced to the functionality of the domes. 

 Jodi Sharp

Jodi Sharp

With exterior paintings that mimic the sacred geometry suggested by the dome architecture, combined with the balanced alignment within the dome complex, this space will lend itself to a peaceful, harmonious environment. This in turn supports the well-being of community. 

The Archimedes team is thrilled to be collaborating with the artists and with Gratitude Migration this year. They hope that they not only will be providing a service to the wonderful community of Gratitude, but will make more and deeper connections with all of those coming to the event. If you are coming to Gratitude Migration this year, make sure to stop by and say hi! 

Article by Jodi Sharp

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