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Temple of The Sun

Temple of the Sun is a proposal for the temple at Burning Man for 2023. 

If chosen, One Future Arts would be the fiscal sponsor. 

Lead artist Lawrence Grown with architectural team Douglas Smith, Lana Kotova, Julia Contaldo, Franz Hein, and Stephen Taskin, and partnered with Black Rock Observatory.

Without our modest star, human life would not be possible


Every hour on the hour a column of light strikes a set of prisms, sending a shower of sparkles into the interior courtyard. Temple of the Sun is a celebration of the passing of time, a recognition that human life would not be possible on Earth without the energy of the Sun, and a hope that we might align our technologies with natural systems before it’s too late.


“Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes, they call me on and on across the universe.” John Lennon


Temple of the Sun is a celebration of life, death, and our place in the universe. 

15 towers surround a courtyard. Every hour on the hour a column of light passes through a different tower, striking prisms that sparkle. This marks the passage of time, and offers an ode to our life-sustaining sun.



Along the path from The Man, a Sundial Gateway marks the hour of the day. A perimeter fence represents our sun’s stellar corona. The temple structure is like an anemone with tentacle-like towers reaching out to the Sun. 


A series of entrances welcome visitors inside, where a shaded courtyard is surrounded by towers and the walls are covered in memorials. The sun pours in through each of the towers in turn, hitting prisms on the hour, creating a sparkly light show. A curvy colonnade offers a series of alcoves to explore and adorn. 


A raised platform across the courtyard is perfect for choirs or weddings. Raised seating provides a comfortable place to listen and participate. Beyond the stage, sculptural discs plunge into the playa representing the sun dipping below our horizon, creating a continuous loop marking the sun’s path through the 24 hours of day and night. At the far side of the perimeter fence is the Black Rock Observatory which will offer interactive solar viewing by day and astronomical stargazing at night. 


This temple is a series of 15 towers surrounding a covered sanctuary. Each tower consists of an identical base with a telescoping light tube angled to catch the sun once per day between sunrise and sunset. Prisms at the base of each tube catch the light at the specified hour. Alcoves are formed in the spaces between towers. Dappled light and airflow are provided by the shade canopy. Temple of the Sun offers a wide variety of ways to foster meaningful experiences.




Temple of the Sun is built around the primitive technology of sun and sky observance. It welcomes the visitor to contemplate where we are relative to our nearest star, and the apparent path it makes around us daily. I hope this inspires a different way of seeing oneself in the universe, and both the profound impact of lives within our orbits and our own tinyness within the vastness of space and time. If someone spends more than an hour in this temple they may witness the sun passing through two towers and enjoy two natural “light shows.” 


The heart of the temple is an offering of a sacred space for personal contemplation, celebration, and catharsis. 


Temple of the Sun offers a range of spaces to explore, inhabit, and rest. Every surface is available for memorials and offerings. The courtyard is a large central gathering space with dispersed raised seating and a platform on one side for events both scheduled and spontaneous. Two smaller side areas offer medium-sized spaces. The colonnade suggests a path to explore around the ellipse, and is lined with 14 intimate alcoves with shallow shelving for photographs, cards, poems, and mementos. 


Black Rock Observatory will set up their dome on the north side of the perimeter and will host a wide variety of sky gazing activities and educational experiences.




The Temple is the heart of Burning Man. To me it is the grounding of the event in the most meaningful of human experiences. 


As a participant, I want to create a temple that offers a range of interactivity, to support what happens there: memorials, meditation, mourning, healing, rituals, etc. We need ample wall surfaces, a central gathering space, places for small and large groups to share memorable moments. 


As a community builder, I want to create opportunities for a diverse group of humans to share an experience both practical and transcendent, and to form connections that last far beyond the project.


As an architect I want to create a temple with good light, sturdy walls, and comfortable seating. 


As an artist I want to create a temple with a higher purpose — an additional layer of meaning. 


I see the temple as an opportunity to tell the community what we are about-making positive change in the world. I am personally moved by nature-based spirituality. I want to create a temple that serves all the people and purposes of the Burning Man temple and that will also inspire a different way of thinking about humans in our relationship to the planet and the universe. By orienting the temple to the sun, it represents a subtle shift in our thinking and priorities: to make nature and our collective survival as important as our immediate desires. 

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