Northeast Los Angeles Placemaking Competition: Walkable Labyrinth Pathway


Project submitted by: Lisa Cole

Project Summary and Scale

I propose a flat walkable labyrinth pathway, which is a circuitous path with one way in and the same way out. It's a proven meditative tool and also visually interesting. Labyrinths are NOT mazes! There are no tall hedges or wrong turns. This is a simple walkable pathway that anyone can use without any hindrances. The labyrinth space can also be multi-purpose. Since flat it can be used for yoga or performances. The labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. By walking a labyrinth, it is said we are rediscovering a long-forgotten mystical tradition. The labyrinth has only one path so there are no tricks to it and no dead ends. The path winds throughout and becomes a mirror for where we are in our lives. It touches our sorrows and releases our joys. Everyone is encouraged to walk it with an open mind and an open heart. It can be a revealing path or just an enjoyable walk in nature! The scale and scope of this project is quite simple. Frankly, it offers a lot of bang for the buck and would be a beautiful unique contribution to the overall master plans for the LA River!

Why are you committed to this project?

I love labyrinths and have walked many. In 2008, I installed one (E. LA community garden) and was recognized by the city. Labyrinths are spiritual tools encouraging people to walk and reflect. They're non-sectarian symbols found worldwide since Cretan times. Walking one can be a healing tool for all ages.

What are the most relevant characteristics of project site and scale?

If we model a replica of the Chartres Cathedra labyrinth in France from 1220 AD (the most famous design worldwide), the space requirements are approximately 41' in diameter. The pathways inside are approximately 13-16" wide. We just need a nice flat area to create one. Materials can be permanent, like cement or brick or semi-permanent in gravel, stone, grass or a combination.

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Describe how this project will reinforce a sense of place or enhance the built environment.

Walking a labyrinth creates a time for reflection and peace. Its an ancient symbol of peace and spirituality found worldwide. Incorporating a labyrinth walkable pathway into the LA River plans will help people bridge the dynamics of an energetic urban city with nature, the river and its wildlife inhabitants. Its the perfect contribution to a natural setting as it is very unobtrusive and can blend almost seamlessly into the surrounding environs. It can also be placed at the center of a quiet garden for rest and relaxation.

Provide a description of the project's necessary planning activities.

We would need a site engineer to identify the best space to lay out the labyrinth and a labyrinth facilitator to help me, who has built a large one in outdoor spaces before. The team and materials could be kept quite small and simple for implementation. Requirements would be clearing a 41' diameter space in order to create the labyrinth circuitous pathway. A few benches could also be considered for outside the pathway and perhaps a small placard explaining simply how to use the labyrinth and what its symbol represents.


What is a rough estimate of your project budget?

Approximately $10,000 - $20,000 depending on materials. The cost is really site dependent - ie, what all needs to be cleared from the 41' diameter space. And also what materials are chosen for the pathway. I would work in collaboration with the LA River organization to determine the best materials for long-term, multi-purpose use of space.

What community need is your project serving?

A labyrinth serves many needs providing: 1. a multi-use space that helps forge community. 2. peaceful resting place 3. active walkable pathway that can be be used for thought, reflection and/or meditation 4. Unique design and forward thinking concept 5. a place to bring community together as its perfect for all ages. 6. Unique space for other activities: ie, people often get married on labyrinths and could use this space for matrimonial ceremonies along the LA River! How cool would that be?!

If your project is realized, what does success look like?

Success is creating an idea that provides a unique beautiful multi-purpose space in harmony with nature and the bustle of our big city... that benefits all ages, races and religions. Success is an idea that forges community! I'm a proud homeowner of six years in Glassel Park, living walking distance to the river. My family and I are super excited to be a part of this project in any way possible. I love what you're doing and I promise I have the community's best interests at heart. Thank you for your consideration of this idea!

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