Labyrinths in Places

Labyrinths are found in many places. Some are permanent and some are brought in temporarily for events. The challenge for labyrinth enthusiasts is often how to get permission to introduce a labyrinth into a specific environment. This section of the website examines some of the places where labyrinths may be found, the benefits of having them there, how they are used, and how people were able to install them there in the first place!

5. Outdoor, Permanent Labyrinths

Building a permanent labyrinth at a university – and probably any public space – is likely to be the result of partnerships between sections of the organisation that don’t often work together. This collaboration strengthens the project process (at the same time, making it more challenging) and therefore has the potential to strengthen relationships within the university in the longer term, a very positive benefit for labyrinth building and any complex project.

In every case, there will be a very powerful reason for any university or college to install a permanent labyrinth. Such initiatives are likely to come from within the university, though, as the following examples show, they may include families and friends as contributors to these developments:

  • As a spiritual resource. Labyrinths have been built outdoors and indoors as places for reflection, meditation and prayer at a number of universities, including Flinders University School of Theology, Adelaide, Australia. 
  • As a memorial. Several labyrinths have been funded in memory of students or staff; others are in memory of those who were lost in the tragic events of 9/11. An example is at Boston College.
  •  As a labyrinth for the community and the university together – a powerful form of community outreach, such as the labyrinth at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • As a work of art, a beautiful feature of the university and its neighbourhood, as at Tromsø University, Norway.

  • As a teaching and learning resource, such as that recently built at the University of Kent.

In practice, of course, there may well be a combination of objectives that contribute in making a strong and ultimately successful case for a permanent labyrinth. For more ideas, see Robert Ferré’s comprehensive overview of reasons to build a university labyrinth.