Project Background:

Over a year ago, The Portal from HERE to THERE was created as a conceptual design exercise to spiritually and emotionally unite those who are physically separate. More specifically, it was to reunite Amber with her Chilean fiancé, Fito, who was living 6,500 miles to the south for several months. They missed each other deeply and Amber designed The Portal as an expression of her love for him.

Shortly thereafter, he came to live with Amber in Berkeley as she finished her graduate studies in Landscape Architecture. They passed seven blissful months together before, on September 12, 2010 — his 35th birthday —armed robbers took Fito's life, while he saved Amber's.

She knew then that she would build The Portal as a means to communicate with the love of her life, if only metaphysically.

Though it was conceived and designed as a personal rite of passage, on the playa The Portal will become a rite of passage for the entire Burning Man community. It is transformative architecture; it is a sacred space; it is a conduit for all who enter to project his or her mind and soul across the globe, or to another dimension, so that each can communicate with his or her loved ones without the distractions of everyday life. The Portal shares Amber's love, loss, and the adventures she had with Fito. And, with the help of the community, The Portal amplify this message to him: "The entire world loves you, misses you, and wishes you well on your new adventure."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Have extra Burlap, Rope, or Plotter Rolls?

We want the Portal to be as sustainably constructed as possible, therefore we are looking for
a source of used materials so we can keep lower our ecologic and economic footprint.

If you have any of the below, please contact Amber Nelson at
burlap coffee bags: for the outer skin. 900 bags or 8000 sq.ft
climbing rope: for the inner “tree.” 15000 linear feet
plotter rolls: for the structure. 3500 linear feet or 900 rolls

We will begin making the Portal on April 1, 2011, so it would be ideal to obtain materials by this date, though we will also collect materials on an on-going basis through August.

Your donation for either part or all of this quantity would be extremely appreciated.
Thank you for your consideration.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Model

Concept sketch- the 5 phenomenological experiences of the Portal:
Axis Mundi: Earth-Sky connection on horizon
Threshold: Entrance into the womb of the Earth
Contrasting Light: Aspiration skyward
Processional Climb: Strenuous path skyward
Pod: Metaphysical skyward projection

Daylight view at entry

Night view at entry

Daylight view of interior

Night view from inside

View from below

View from above - stained glass skylight and alternating hexagon/pentagon mesh pods

View from above - with scale silhouette of people in pod

Close up view from above - scaled silhouette of people in pod and candles in sand

Close-up of mesh pod from interior

Close up of dome structure- an icosahedron inscribed within its dual, the dodecahedron

Diagram of dome struts and joinery

Dowload a PDF of all the above images here:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

1st team meeting: Sunday Jan 23, 2011

1st team meeting will happen tomorrow (Sunday) as planned: 12-2 in Wurster 315A. For those who don't have a clue where that is: here's a map. Go to the 3rd floor and knock on the studio door if its locked...someone will let you in.

I will be pleased to see you...

questions? call 314.496.0952

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Burning Man 2011, 29.Aug - 5.Sep:

The portal recently became a realistic possibility when a friend told me about art grants given by the Burning Man Committee to construct projects for the annual Burning Man Festival. Burning Man is the perfect venue for the portal, since its "intention is to generate society that connects each individual to his or her creative powers, to participation in community, to the larger realm of civic life, and to the even greater world of nature that exists beyond society. We believe that the experience of Burning Man can produce positive spiritual change in the world... At the the end of the event, thousands silently surround a temple dedicated to that strangest and most fearful change of all: the loss of loved ones and our ultimate departure from the world." Even more appropriately, this year's theme is "Rites of Passage", explained thusly: "There are moments of crisis and frisson in our lives which inform us that we've somehow crossed an inner threshold and are changed. Thus moving from one state of being into an unknown other obliges us to face our innermost insecurities, and it requires faith, a willingness to leap off the ladder of ordered existence." Tickets to attend are expensive, between $200-300, but if you participate in a project (like mine), entry is free or greatly reduced. To learn more, visit: .

How to get Involved:
Whether you're a designer or not, with tons of free time or not, there are ways to help out. I've put together a detailed project time line and outlined all the jobs that must be filled in order to get the project off the ground. The first deadline, unfortunately rapidly approaching, is the art grant proposal, due February 1. After that, timing is somewhat more flexible, though I've assigned target dates to keep the project running smoothly.

To view the project time Line, click:

To view project jobs, submit your interest in the project, share your ideas or connections, or let me know you plan to attend, fill out this form:

Lastly, please forward to any and all of your family and friends who you think may be interested. All are welcome; the more love, the better.

-Amber Nelson

Original Concept, 9.9.2009

 portal to the distant and dear

This quick charette exercise reunites those who are physically separate. The inhabitant crawls into the large bubble via a small hole and enters a vacuous and completely dark space save the light entering from far above via the mesh portals in the wall of the globe. To enter the portal one must climb the strenuous tree-like structure and locate an unoccupied portal pod. Lying suspended in the soft mesh, he or she can project their mind across the globe or to another dimension to communicate with a loved one without distraction from everyday life. Download portal concept text (pdf):

More portal concept photos: