Please see our documentation links on the left for how to build a hexayurt.
The Hexayurt Family
We now have 13 hexayurt models which have been built and tested and are suitable for a variety of purposes. The shelters share a common feature: they can be made from standard industrial 4'x8' (1.2m x 2.4m) panels from materials like plastic, polyiso insulation, plywood, OSB, sandwich panels and cardboard. In disaster relief applications the hexayurt can cost less than a tent, and be constructed in far larger quantities than tent supplies allow.
The hexayurt has always been a zero budget project - I paid for R&D out of my own pocket, and that's often resulted in cheand nasty solutions. The polyiso board and bidirectional tape "standard hexayurt" was cooked up one summer in a hell of a hurry, and worked well enough that it became a standard, but I knew it was lousy from a sustainability perspective, and the moop problems that have developed as boards age or are badly transported are a growing problem at Burning Man as we scale from a few dozen units to a few thousand. We have to be incredibly clean, and incredibly efficient, for the hexayurt to stay part of the solution rather than becoming part of the problem.
To this end, I'd like to ask you a favour: retire any hexayurt which is the least bit moopy, and replace it with something made of more durable materials, things which will last a lifetime, ideally be recycled at the end of life, and definitely, definitely will not moop at all in any stage of their lifetime. This "let us not moop" thing should be obvious, but I get the feeling that people have gotten so used to the "standard hexayurt" that they are turning a blind eye to little problems on those battered corners of a panel, or where tape has failed. Let us put a stop to that.
So what to use instead of the standard hexayurt materials? I think there's a good case to be made for sticking to tape, but moving to tapes which do not degrade in the desert sun. They do exist: more expensive, but more durable. Boards could also be fastened with metal brackets, zippers, velcro, and half a dozen other things. Do some experiments, there's 9 months until the next Burn, and this is supposed to be a collaborative R&D project: in the face of trouble, let's innovate.
Now let's talk materials. I hear great things about Thermax HD, but nobody seems to be able to source it, and it's not recyclable even if it is tough. Hunter XCI 286 seems to be about the same, but is (slightly?) easier to obtain. Honeycomb Polypropelene looks interesting, I have a few sheets kicking around at home, and there are clearly possibilities. But how well does it insulate? Industrial sandwich panels are available in an almost infinite variety of forms, that's also clearly worth further investigation.
Please, make use of the mailing list, and let's put our heads together and fix this once and for all: a new hexayurt template for the next 10 years on the Playa.
2016: total world domination
I spent most of my adult life under a vow to do nothing for money I was not willing to do for free, which led to the hexayurt, and the hexayurt being free rather than being a product. In practice this lifestyle led to me busting my ass trying to save the human race from problems that it won't admit that it has (like pandemic flu) with some pretty weird allies. I did an interview with VICE about a year ago, which detailed the decisions which led to me workingwithEthereum and Consensys, largely leaving the unpaid work on disaster mitigation behind.
I'm now completing that transformation by founding a venture capital project, working title hexayurt guy capital partners. We're actively looking for projects to fund, and institutions to partner with. I think you'll find the thesis interesting, and the resilience-based approach to founder psychology unique. You'd probably enjoy working with us. A lot of what pushed me down this path was watching Elon Musk's effectiveness in solving real problems using the machinery of financial capitalism. He's quite inspirational.
Even with all this going on, it's important to me that we do not lose sight of the real reasons this work exists, and why it has been free since its inception in 2002. We have made an enormous contribution to Burning Man, 2200 homes on the playa in 2015, and more this year I am sure. I hope you'll enjoy the next stages of our development. There's a Reddit AMA if you want additional insight. —VG
PS: In case you think I've entirely abandoned my efforts to improve things by diligent effort, The Cutting Machinery meditation app will be out soon, and that's another big job out of the way. If you wonder how and why I did what I did, it's in there.
Practice Safe Hex
Finish your hexayurt at home. Definitely no board cutting, even for windows, on the Playa if you can avoid it. Reno parking lots etc. are not ideal either.
Transport your hexayurt safely. That seems to mean sandwiching the panels between two sheets of plywood and ratchet straps if you are using a roof rack. That is going to be heavy: make sure your roof rack / car can take it!
Make your tie downs good and strong. Candy caned rebar stakes, driven deep, or regular rebar with ends protected so nobody can cut themselves. User ratchet straps or a rope halo, and make sure it's tight enough that the wind cannot shift the unit a milimeter.
Put a smoke detector at the peak of every hexayurt. This is really important: the more hexayurts that are in use, the safer each one must be if we are going to maintain our safety record!
Make sure that every hexayurt has two exits. Even if one is taped shut - in case of fire. This is particularly critical if you have honeycombed hexayurts together. Fire is a real risk: please protect yourselves.
Julie Danger is building hexayurts at the Maker Faire. Say hi for me!
At long last, we're beginning to get some real community documentation going. Documenting the hexayurt has always been a big job, and I'm delighted to have some new resources for builders.
Julie Danger's Camp Danger folding hexayurt videos document a really easy way of making folding hexayurts. Julie's videos are by far the easiest way to understand how to make hexayurts, and highly recommended.
Then there's the Nearodesic Tridome Report by the Space Gnomes (who have more regular identities on the report). This is an incredibly useful document, with full structural engineering calculations for the Tridome hexayurt in polyiso under Burning Man conditions. I'm absolutely delighted this research has been done, and I hope you'll download it and give it a look!
George Fisher has created a survivalist's hexayurt guide (I hope he won't mind me calling it that) which is a bridge I've wanted to see built for years. I've always thought that the hexayurt was an integral part of grass roots resilience efforts in earthquake zones and similar places, and it's good to see the system percolating across cultures.
750 hexayurts at Burning Man 2012, 500 in 2011 - but how many in 2013?
Every red dot on this aerial photo from 2011 is a hexayurt. There are even more in the 2012 aerial picture but it's a little cloudy!