08 August 2012

East End Rec Center Park Labyrinth

I've been commissioned to create a labyrinth in the newly recreated East End Rec Center Park.

The rec center location: the entire block between 4th & 5th and
Zumbro & St. Charles streets – building, the basketball courts,
the skateboard park, and the park.
The park as it was
The park as it will be
The work of building the labyrinth:

The first step was to select a design for the labyrinth. I decided that we should use a Classical labyrinth design instead of a Medieval or Contemporary design. I choose a Baltic Classical labyrinth which is a double spiral labyrinth. The double spiral labyrinths can be walked in multiple ways (as opposed to other forms of labyrinths where one follows the same path in and out).

The location for the future labyrinth. Note: all the old playground equipment
is being replaced with earthenworks and other interesting play adventure features.
The labyrinth will be in the southeast corner of the park. Originally the plan called for a 20' labyrinth, but I convinced everyone that it needed to be bigger in order for the pathways to be wide enough. It will be a permanent installation, but we're creating it with blocks instead of digging a footer and pouring concrete. We wanted the walking surface to be grass, not pavement.

We will be using solid concrete blocks that will have mosaic work on the top surface. They will be set into the ground so that they can be mowed over. The mosaic will be a river with river creatures in it. We're using recycled glass and river pebbles for the river and the river banks. The river creatures are being created by local glass artists, Bernadette Mahfood and Walken Ratajcyk.

The Work Days
The mosaic work will be done over the course of 3 or 4 days by members of the community – Saturday, August 18, 9am - 3pm; Thursday, August 23, 4pm -7pm (at the Rec Center's Block Party Olympics); and Saturday, August 25, 9am - 3pm. The builds are open to everyone (but we're asking that any child under the age of 10 work with their parent or another adult/older teen).

Making the River:
The surface of the blocks measures 8" wide and 16" long. The river will be 4-6" wide (varying width as it goes along) with an inch or two of shoreline on each side. We'll draw the outlines on the blocks. I'll have a second full-sized drawing to spread out on the parking lot at the park. We'll lay out the blocks and trim any that need shaped. We will work from the spread out blocks during the mosaicing  – the blocks will be numbered so that we can keep track of where they went in the pattern. We will let the blocks set for 24 hours before the installation to make sure that the thinset mortar is set up anhd they can be handled without damaging them.

What's been done so far:
I drew the labyrinth full size (the 20' size – which is how I figured out that it needed to be a bit larger) on heavy paper (with the help of Emerald) and took it to the park last Friday. Since we were increasing the size we cut out the diagram and expanded it on the field. We pinned it in place with insulation supports (very strong thin metal rods), and once it was all in place we marked the path dividers.

After I left the Parks & Rec crew and volunteers dug out the path divider trench. 

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