Public Squares Project

The application form for public square placement is now closed for Alchemy 2019.

The cheat sheet for the application is at

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The concept is taken from A Pattern Language (Christopher, et al.), a hippie-wise treatise on creating livable spaces.  (You can download the whole thing here: I used it to create my own manifesto on burn design and layout, which you can access here:

The concept is simple: use SMALL PUBLIC SQUARES  — between 40-70 feet — to create IDENTIFIABLE NEIGHBORHOODS and ACTIVITY NODES. Each square will be anchored by SOMETHING IN THE MIDDLE: art, activities, or performances, hosted by a camp who is placed next to the square to run/maintain it.

These squares (probably around six or seven of them) will be connected by our roads and paths to create focal points — ACTIVITY NODES — stopping points or goals along our way throughout the burn.

What kinds of things can anchor a square?

  • art
  • small burn (see size restrictions later)
  • flow spaces
  • 3 Old Men Labyrinth
  • a bar
  • gathering spot/conversation pit
  • massage tent
  • playground (like Swing Swang Swung)
  • performance space/stage
  • other: ___________________

The ANCHOR PROJECT does not have to be a new thing; like the 3 Old Men Labyrinth, it can be something that is already a part of your camp's offerings — you'll just put it out in the square as a focal point.


Sometime this summer, camps will be invited to apply to anchor a square. You’ll be asked about the anchor project, how it works as an ACTIVITY NODE, the size requirements, and any other camps you would like to camp on the square with you.  You will be required to submit a scaled site plan, so don’t even start whining about that.

(This application is separate from the actual placement registration; TCOs will still have to register the camp for placement. You will already have tumbled to the fact that anchoring a square has the advantage that you will be a focal point; the disadvantage is that anchoring a square ties you to one of the squares, so your other desires — think “trees” — become moot.)

After the proposals are submitted, the Placement Team will choose which projects will anchor the squares.  (If your project is not selected, of course you still bring it and incorporate it into your camp same as always.)


Selection for placement on a Public Square will be determined by the following criteria:

• Interactivity: Can hippies take part in it? Touch it? Climb on it? Watch it?

• Availability: Is it available 24/7 or only during specified hours? (NOTE: you are not required to be open 24/7 — we just want to know your planned schedule for planning purposes.)

• Landmark status: Is it distinctive enough to help hippies know where they are in the burn? What makes it special?

• Design & Integration: How well would it fit in with the surrounding camps? How will you define your square, i..e., make it its own space? What is your "Something in the Middle"? We are trying to encourage (and will give preference to) embedded squares that provide for through traffic (pedestrian/golf cart only).

• Engagement: How does your project attract and engage the hippies? How will it contribute to the "explorability"/passeggiata of the burn?

NOTE: These criteria are a work-in-progress, but the final result will not be far from this.


Note that anchor projects are eligible for art grants if they fill out the application by July 1.  That application is at

If you’re thinking about a mini-burn:

  • The limits on the size of your burn are around 8’ tall and 5’ wide. The diameter of your burn perimeter can be calculated by the formula PER = 2 * (2H + 2W), but remember that you need to include room for your audience outside the perimeter!
  • All proposed burns will be vetted by Fire Safety as part of the application process.

Your site plan should look something like this:

Other rules and restrictions may apply.


ANCHOR CAMP: The theme camp which provides, maintains, and monitors the ANCHOR PROJECT.

ANCHOR PROJECT: The SOMETHING IN THE MIDDLE which creates the ACTIVITY NODE: art, performance, activity.

ACTIVITY NODE: A space for attracting hippies; an opening in the usual fabric of the PASSEGGIATA.

PASSEGGIATA: The “stroll,” and the quality of that stroll; the promenade.

SMALL PUBLIC SQUARES: Open spaces between 40-70 feet wide. A square need not be actually square, but it must not be over 70 feet in any dimension. If it is on a road, then one side must be the road; if it is approached by paths (foot and golf cart traffic only), then paths can come in at any point.

SOMETHING IN THE MIDDLE: the thing that attracts the hippies in their passeggiata: art, spin space, bar, labyrinth...


Feel free to email with questions/comments.

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