Gijs Van Vaerenbergh create Labyrinth maze for Genk’s c-mine arts centre in Belgium

by Tom Anstey | 28 Jul 2015

Architects Pieterjan Gijs and Arnout Van Vaerenbergh have created an intricate maze at the heart of Genk’s c-mine arts centre in Belgium, using the ‘age-old’ form of the labyrinth to create a structure exploring space and architecture.

The Belgian duo, collectively known as Gijs Van Vaerenbergh, have created ‘Labyrinth’, a sculptural-spatial intervention based on the artists' interest in fundamental architectural typologies. Using unique compositions of wall and void, the labyrinth stands at 37.5m (123ft) at its highest points and is comprised of 5mm thick steel plates geometrically hollowed to create a collection of frames. Bollinger+Grohmann handled structural engineering for the project.

According to the architects, “through a monotonous succession of high corridors, the viewer is confronted with openings that reveal what is on the other side of the walls.”

Seen from certain perspectives, Gijs Van Vaerenbergh’s cut-out frames are fragmentary, whereas from other viewpoints the entire cut-out shape is revealed, creating a unique demonstration of spatial exploration. In its maze format, some frames open to the surrounding environment, also acting as points of orientation for maze-goers.

One of the old mine mine shafts of c-mine – a former coal mining site – is incorporated into the design, where visitors can ascend to the top of the structure and look down into the maze and at those exploring it (a point of view traditionally reserved for the creator or the mythical labyrinths).

“In any other context, the installation wouldn’t have worked,” said Gijs Van Vaerenbergh. “The central square at c-mine is a completely different environment.

“Here, we were confronted with an artificial, highly designed, large-scaled context that wasn’t very welcoming to make a similar installation. We therefore chose to build an installation that was directed inwards and dealt more strongly with space and one’s relation to it. We did so by looking for inspiration in a primal architectural typology: the labyrinth. In a way, this is an essential form of architecture, which is only composed of walls."

Gijs Van Vaerenbergh added: "A series of Boolean transformations (a mathematical principle based on a system of logical thought), however, generates openings and perspectives on the environment, which gives the labyrinth a new meaning. Finally, the ascension of the mine shafts are included in the experience to create another interesting relationship with the environment.”

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Architects Pieterjan Gijs and Arnout Van Vaerenbergh have created an intricate maze at the heart of Genk’s c-mine arts centre in Belgium, using the ‘age-old’ form of the labyrinth to create a structure exploring space and architecture. The Belgian duo, collectively known as Gijs Van Vaerenbergh, have created ‘Labyrinth’, a sculptural-spatial intervention based on the artists' interest in fundamental architectural typologies. Using unique compositions of wall and void, the labyrinth
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Gijs Van Vaerenbergh, have created ‘Labyrinth’, a sculptural-spatial intervention based on the artists' interest in fundamental architectural typologies / Filip Dujardin
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