A nifty way to build modular multi story structures
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A nifty way to build modular multi story structures

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All files (.skp) are created with Sketchup, but I have also provided DXF (line NOT mesh) files for easy import into other CAD Software.

Node sheet

We have been using 18mm (3/4") marine grade baltic birch plywood (and I recommend you do too, because I have tried to use cheaper stuff and it's not strong enough and also can't be cut with low enough tolerance). Therefore all designs assume 3/4" material.

The holes are used to hook in the ratchet straps needed to get the diagonal cross tension that keeps the structure together.

The reason the sheets are sized 11.5in is to maximize the amount we can cut out of a 4x8ft plywood sheet (the 1/4" drill bit eats the margins).

The node sheet dxf files are ready to be sent over to your fabricator of choice. I recommend letting them know that the sheets are meant to be slid together so that they get the machine set up with the right tolerance. You will need a 1/4" diameter drill bit or otherwise you will have to modify the files.

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6x 3/4in thick node sheets are required to assemble one node.

Since you won't be needing all holes on a node for structural purposes you can use the other to run cables, attach fabric, flag poles, etc.

Nodes also make for amazing cup holders btw.

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2x 3/4in thick subfloors with each 2x 2x4 joists are required for one floor.

Mind you that the floors are not up to construction code! Thankfully plywood is amazing material and they are good enough for a temporary structure with lots of people on them dancing and doing other shenanigans. I am considering either using 4x4 for the joists next time or adding a 3rd 2x4 joist... there are trade offs though.

We used construction grade plywood for the floors from HomeDepot.

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With 8x nodes and 12x 4x4 7'7" lumber pieces one can put together a düxel (dust voxel).

You will need ratchet straps to get the diagonal cross tention that keeps the structure together. We used these 14ft ones with a working load limit of 3,333lbs.

I single düxel requires about 8x straps depeding on how stiff you need the structure to be. Larger structures usually can do with less. We calculated 1.75 per node to estimate the amount for our structure (You will need more straps during setup than for the finished structure though).

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I designed the subfloors so that they can be efficently stacked with the lumber in between.

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Some Advice

  • Practice Setup! Don't just willy nilly show up on the playa and try to wing it
  • Tools: a level, multiple (step)ladders, work gloves, rubber mallets, a crow bar and maybe an actual mallet (for when shit went wrong)
  • You will need a flat and stable ground, specially for larger/multi-level structures
  • Use kiln dried lumber for the 4x4 to avoid warping and cracks (otherwise its going to be a one time only project)
  • Build the first düxel first and make sure its 100% level... otherwise you are going to multiply the mess
  • Only have 3-4 people working on putting the structure together at a time... the others can deliver materials
  • Put the subfloors in before you tighten it
  • Deciding where and where not to put ratchets is an art on itself...better find someone who knows what she is doing!
  • The structure will takes 2-3 days to settle...so you need to keep tightening the ratchets every day
  • To build the hotel structure you see on the photo it took about 12 people 2 days to completly set it up (incl fabrics, lights, etc) and 20 people about 2h for teardown and packing (under playa conditions)
  • It's düxel not duxel... because umlauts :)

Please feel free to reach out if you have questions...and send photos of your düxel projects!


  • Create metric versions of the designs so that people outside of the US can use it
  • Improve the subfloors
  • Ratchets need to be keep fastened every day, I wonder if there is a better fastener
  • Explore using cheaper materials


  • Gregg Fleishman for letting us use his patent
  • The Lost Hotel for pioneering this idea
  • All the amazing souls at Hotel California for making this happen
  • Douglas Waters for helping me picking the right type of lumber (and where to get it without breaking the bank)
  • Stephanie for teaching me how to use a CNC machine and giving me a lesson on wood types
  • Rob Ehret who was right about using marine grade plywood from the beginning and letting us use his shop
  • Slawek Krause for reaffirming that this would probably work :)
  • Jenny Guan for adding the umlaut :)


Copyright (c) 2016-2017 Matthias Wagner

Node system based on patent US4551960-A by Gregg Fleishmann who was so kind to allow non commercial use.

Safety Disclaimer

This project and the material covered is for informational purposes only. We take no responsibility for what you do with this knowledge. We can not be held responsible for any property or medical damages caused by items you read about here. We would advise you to check your local laws. Some of the items we refer to are illegal in some areas, and we would highly advise you against building these in said areas.

The material is for informational purposes only. By taking any information or education material, you assume all risks for the material covered. You agree to indemnify, hold harmless, and defend this project from any and all claims and damages as a result of any and all of the information covered.

By taking and/or using any informational resources from this project, you agree that you will use this information in a safe and legal manner, consistent with all applicable laws, safety rules, and good common sense. You further agree that you will take such steps as may be reasonably necessary or required by applicable law to keep any information out of the hands of minors and untrained and/ or immature individuals.