The National Building Museum was smart to wait till April 2nd to announce their latest project, lest anyone think it was a cleverly crafted April Fool’s prank. The Washington, D.C.–based institution said today over Twitter (“A-MAZE-ING NEWS”) that Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) will design an unconventional maze to be temporarily housed in its grand atrium. Perhaps inspired by the summer tradition of the corn maze, the BIG installation will debut in the West Court of the building’s cavernous Great Hall on July 4th, bringing new meaning to Independence Day to those wandering within its walls.
(Courtesy BIG / National Building Museum)
In a material sense the Danish firm has opted to go against the grain, constructing their project out of Baltic birch plywood. Convention is also bucked in the experience of the maze itself. Traditionally a labyrinth grows more confounding as one descends deeper into its clutches. In the case of BIG’s maze, penetration fosters clarity. The 18-foot-tall walls that establish the square perimeter of the structure slope towards its center, meaning that upon reaching the heart of the design, visitors are offered a 360 degree view of the entire layout of the labyrinth that, presumably, ensures a relatively painless escape.(Courtesy BIG / National Building Museum)
The maze will be installed through September 1st as part of the museum’s Summer Block Party slate of programming.
BIG is not the first firm in recent months to try their hand at such work within a museum context. The Royal Academy of Arts in London recruited seven international architects, including Diébédo Francis Kéré and Kengo Kuma to design labyrinthine installations for an exhibit entitled Sensing Spaces. The show opened in late January and runs through April 6th.