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.