Two Belgian architects create a steel-frame maze which viewers can look down on from an old mine shaft
Belgian architects Pieterjan Gijs and Arnout Van Vaerenbergh created a sculptural-spatial intervention on the grounds of the Genk’s C-mine Arts Center in Belgium, where viewers must navigate a geometric conundrum. Through unique compositions of wall, void, and cut-outs, the two architects, collectively known as Gijs Van Vaerenbergh, explore fundamental architecture typologies. Labyrint comprises 5mm (0.196 inches) steel plates that have been geometrically hollowed to create a collection of continuous, never-ending frames. Arches, concaves, and hard angles form an otherworld, where viewers can get their bearings by looking through cut-outs that repeat themselves from one side of the structure to the other, revealing daylight on the other side. These dimensions were generated using Boolean transformations, a mathematical principle based on a system of logical thought. “Through a monotonous succession of high corridors, the viewer is confronted with openings that reveal what is on the other side of the walls,” say the architects. Lording over the structure is one of the old mine shafts of C-mine, a former coal mining site. Visitors can ascend the shaft, which peaks at 123 feet, and look down onto the maze and those exploring it – a vantage point traditionally reserved for the creators of 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."