chapter  2
23 Pages

City as labyrinth

BySomaiyeh Falahat

The concept of labyrinth as a symbol and metaphor of complexity dates back to the prehistoric era. Representing a condition of entanglement, it originated in the spatial relations associated with the mythic Cretan structure built by Daedalus to hold the half-man, half-monster Minotaur. It was during the Roman era that an architectural space was first described as labyrinthine, with Roman historical-geographical writers, such as Pliny the Elder, applying the term to buildings with complex floor plans and confusing or underworld characteristics. They appreciated the ancient labyrinths as works of art, and labyrinthine buildings as architectural splendours, and were absorbed by their complexity and rarity. In recent years the concept of labyrinth has been considered in association with complex spatial relations developed in works of literature, art and philosophy, such as the short stories of Jorge Luis Borges, the paintings of Giovanni Battista Piranesi or the philosophical concepts of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari.