From the Minotaur's labyrinth of ancient Greece to the fear-inducing warren of hedges in The Shining to Harry Potter's portkey-bearing Triwizard Tournament labyrinth, mazes have long served as powerful architectural symbols. Now the design firm BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group is putting a contemporary spin on the art of the maze.
This summer, BIG will create a massive labyrinth inside the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. Called AmBIGuity, the winding 18-foot high, 61-by-61-foot maze will be made of Baltic birch plywood, but unlike most mazes--which grow more confusing as you go deeper--the walls of BIG’s creation will descend in height towards the center, where visitors have a 360-degree view of their path back out.
“The concept is simple: as you travel deeper into a maze, your path typically becomes more convoluted. What if we invert this scenario and create a maze that brings clarity and visual understanding upon reaching the heart of the labyrinth?” Ingels says in a statement. Visitors will also have a birds-eye view of the structure from the second and third floor interior balconies.
BIG's maze is inspired by ancient labyrinths, garden and hedge mazes of 17th- and 18th-century Europe, and modern American corn mazes. Chase W. Rynd, executive director of the National Building Museum, says this installation "offers our visitors a chance to physically interact with the work of a cutting-edge, international design firm.” While it's a little disappointing that there will be no shiny gold portkey or monster to slay at the center, we understand that adding these would be logistically tricky.