The Tiny Houses of Black Rock City: Cargo Cult

Another Burning Man event has come to a close and Black Rock City this year was jam packed full of interesting camps and structures. The city is the area where the nearly 60,000 people who come to the event live. Their “homes” are a selection of unique structures, trailers, buildings, tents, yurts and other forms of shelter that keep out the harsh sun, sometimes heavy winds and the dust that permeates the air.

Last year, we camped by Tin Man and his fantastic metal pods. This year, we camped by him again and noticed the pods have been improved and they multiplied. Tin Man, a metal worker from Sacramento has been featured in Popular Science magazine with his walking pod, and his pod cabin is his home on the Playa. The bottom pod is a kitchen, the middle pod is a shower area and the top pod with the view is his bedroom. He even had a few guests staying in his camp and created a self-contained micro pod and some guest pods made of curtains.




There were a lot of shipping container shelters out on the playa this year including this one with a constructed inner building that is air conditioned and accessed by a real door. This container was used by one of the Black Rock Rangers. Rangers are the city’s peacekeeping and helpful guides. They help people who are lost, work perimeters during various burns and stay in the city sometimes for several weeks.



There were some very interesting domes this year including this structure that looked like an igloo.


This dome was made entirely out of loaves of bread.


These domes were kept full by constantly pumping air into them via a generator.


This dome was built to look like a large bird of prey.


If you come to Black Rock City in a tent, there are various structures you can place over your tent to keep it cooler and dust free. Our neighbor Kristal Light built a Monkey Hut around her Coleman Bayside tent (which even had a swinging door and a small closet) and our other neighbors built a custom sized post structure around their tent.





Some very colorful structures were in the city this year including yurts, circus tents, Moroccan tents and even a tipi covered in silk scarves.





Of course, there were some beautiful little trailers in the city as well.




Some unusual structures included a teardrop trailer sans trailer built onto the bed of a truck.


A castle called the Coo Coo Camelot.


A yellow, or lello, structure built on top of a shipping container. This structure was used by members of the Department of Public Works, the group who builds Black Rock City.


The Open Mind Zendo near Fractal Planet was built out of cardboard boxes.


This treehouse structure was built and used by the camp Dustfish.


Hands down, my favorite camp in all of Black Rock City is Ashram Galactica. Their extremely well run camp contains the Grand Hotel, a colorful yurt and a set of beautifully decorated canvas bunk houses that serve as the Ashram Suites. Each of the suites are gifted by raffle to denizens of Black Rock City in a nightly drawing. They each have a theme including the Shanghai Suite, the Cambridge Suite and the French Boudoir.







Photos by Christina Nellemann

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

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Walt Barrett - September 2, 2013 Reply

Well, no shortage of variety there. Personally, I’m interested in tiny homes that fit into the extremes of our New England climate. There certainly was no lack of imagination at the Black Rock City gathering.

    Ron Friedman - October 11, 2013 Reply


    I am working with architect Carl Richardson from Rochester, NY to come up with smaller home designs that will excel in the Finger Lakes region. We get plenty of humidity coming of Lake Ontario, cold winds, and varying amounts of snow depending upon where you live. Summers can be extremely hot. I am also working hard to have http://www.lexadomehomes moved to Rochester from British Columbia.

    Let me know if you would like additional information. I have quite a few irons in the fire.

    Ron Friedman
    Rochester, NY
    Skype: Ronjf1

Dee - September 2, 2013 Reply

Great pics. Thanks for sharing.

Jean - September 2, 2013 Reply

I really enjoyed this post. Thanks!

Marvin - September 2, 2013 Reply

Thanks for this great post. I’ve never been to burning man but hope to get there one day. In the meantime I can get a little taste of what it must be like from posts like this. It looks like it was a real blast.

Jake - September 2, 2013 Reply

Just a few weeks ago, as I was coming to the conclusion that I wouldn’t make it to BRC this year, I was wondering when the vast array of B.M. shelters would make it to this blog. I haven’t been to Black Rock City since 2010 and I miss it. The Tin Man has serious talent, as do so many burners…that must be a great view from the bedroom pod!

    Christina Nellemann - September 2, 2013 Reply

    We miss you too, Jake. 🙂 I do a yearly post on the tiny houses of Black Rock City. You can do a search on the site to find the other years…including 2010.

Pamela K. Morris - September 2, 2013 Reply

I haven’t ever heard of Black Rock City but I plan to get to find out more about the events going on there I enjoy meeting people and hearing their stories thank you for your blog

ChrisP - September 2, 2013 Reply

Burning Man is on my ‘bucket list’. Thanks for the photos! Someday, I’ll get there. 🙂

aric - September 2, 2013 Reply

Awesome! I love the diversity and creativity. The Teardrop on the truck bed is a fabulous idea!

Taree - September 2, 2013 Reply

Again this year I vicariously watched online! I love all the creativity and it was wonderful to see the pic’s of the camps. Thanks!

Shell - September 2, 2013 Reply

It was fun to look at them. Thanks for sharing that. : ) Namaste

Tuesday Links … | The Pretense of Knowledge - September 3, 2013 Reply

[…] Tiny House Blog , Archive The Tiny Houses of Black Rock City: Cargo Cult […]

Susan J. - September 3, 2013 Reply

Awesome photos, Christina. Thanks for sharing. I really missing B.M. when I get a glimpse of the creativity there.

The New Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man - Tiny House Blog - December 12, 2016 Reply

[…] the past few years, I’ve been documenting the tiny houses of Black Rock City (BRC for short). BRC is the city where the participants of the annual Burning […]

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