Recursive cities

Recursion simply means return. So a recursive city could be a city that you return to, or that encourages or requires you to keep coming back — like your home town, or a site of pilgrimage. The metaphor of excursion and return applies in many city contexts. See blog post on that theme. Where there’s…More

A thousand insides

Most cities old and new have underground tunnels, passageways, services, and communication systems, many of these conduits are unused and obsolete. I live in a street with a 15 metre deep tunnel that for 21 years had a rail and cable system for hauling goods and passengers along its 1:27 gradient. The tunnel was since…More

Forked paths

The usual method for creating a puzzle maze is to start with a rectilinear, triangular or radial grid and mark it up with a convoluted route from start to end. Then draw in branches, loops and deviations that make the route less obvious. The challenge for a maze architect is to provide the appearance of…More

City on a hill

The maze serves as a metaphor for the city. People get lost in the streets, corridors and communication systems of the city. Cities give the appearance of regularity, symmetry, and order, at least on a map. In his description of cities and places, the writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) affirmed that a maze is a…More

Hacking the unicursal labyrinth

I think mazes are more interesting to draw than to navigate. Draw arcs from each side of a square grid so that they land on the grid point on the opposite side. That produces something interesting. But it’s not a labyrinth. It’s the asymmetry in the procedure that converts the cross-grid-arc motif into a continuous…More

Unicursality

The traditional unicursal maze has no forking paths but leads directly to its centre. As a drawing or ornamental pattern you imagine the lines are walls and trace your finger through the opening. You eventually arrive at the centre, through a series of left and right turns. There’s just one path through the intestines of…More

Infinite souq

Retractable queue barriers funnel airport passengers in twisted but orderly lines. These security labyrinths manage large numbers of people within a confined space. They also keep people on the move, turning compliant travellers into unceremonious processionalists. Umberto Eco thinks the detective story is like a labyrinth. He identified 3 types of labyrinth: the kind that…More

Deviant play

I just watched a team of gamers play Fortnite Battle Royal. You don’t need to play a video game to get the gist. You can watch others play it on Youtube. Fortnite is a war game where you form teams and hide out in photo-real buildings while you shoot enemies. One of the gamers remarked…More