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Minotaur

Nick Coombe & Shona Kitchen, 2003

A must for children and adults alike with a small glittering room formed from rocks of green glass the goal for those exploring the maze's many twists and turns.

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The Minotaur Maze is a must for children and adults alike. The adventurous will discover a number of special features that include a set of stairs taking visitors above the walls and enabling them to consider possible alternative routes within the maze and say 'Hello' to others waiting outside. The final goal, a small glittering room formed from rocks of recycled glass is a quiet place from which to contemplate the task of discovering a return route to the outside world. 

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Minotaur is located in the grounds of Kielder Castle Visitor Centre. While there is a direct path to the maze that includes steps, wheelchair users can access the work via the Duchess trail.

OS map ref: NY632935

In 2004 artist Shona Kitchen and architect Nick Coombe were commissioned to design a new maze for Kielder Castle Visitor Centre.

Surrounded by an old drystone wall, and overlooked by the fake fortifications of Kielder Castle, the maze deliberately uses a rugged walling system comprised of ‘gabions’ to suggest a certain dark purpose and strength, and a room of glittering glass to offer a delicate goal that visitors must find. The structure plays with the notion of a traditional building, deconstructing it so that usual features such as walls, doors, windows and stairs still exist, but not necessarily where you might expect to find them.

The design developed over a period of about a year with details of the layout constantly being tested and changed with assistance from the University of Middlesbrough's Virtual Reality Centre, who built  a series of 3D digital 'walk-throughs' of proposed maze layouts to help create the optimum arrangement for its interior.

During this process the 'goal' evolved from a simple red glass wall, eventually settling on a rectangular, almost blank external wall, within which a series of corridors and blind alleys lead to a fully enclosed room lined with green glass.

The materials used in the final structure were Whinstone - a local basalt whose colour changes from light blue-grey when dry, to almost black when wet, and a recycled glass recovered from industrial glass kilns when they undergo maintenance.

The Whinstone and the glass sat well together, being naturally formed from very similar angular rocks, and the full palette of rock, glass and steel mesh worked together to create a slightly industrial feel, but at the same time, a very robust structure requiring minimal maintenance.

Minotaur was opened in 2006 and won RIBA and Civic Trust Awards the following year.

 

 

Shona Kitchen is an internationally-renowned multidisciplinary artist/designer with a passion for technological advancement. Kitchen focuses her attention across several fields which allows for a breadth of exploration on current and future technologies through architecture/interaction design, art and conceptual narrative architectural proposals. More details about Shona Kitchen can be found at http://www.shonakitchen.com/
 

Minotaur is close to Kielder Castle Visitor Centre, the Kielder Catle Café, village shop, the Angler's Arms, 2 cycle hire facilities, and a starting point for the Lakeside Way and a specialised mountainbike trails.