George King creates glowing Lasermaze installation in Detroit

George King weaves UV string to create glowing maze-like installation in Detroit

UK architect George King has used ultra-violet wool thread to produce an installation that appears to be formed by laser beams within an old train underpass in Detroit (+ slideshow).

This video shows the construction of the Lasermaze installation


Called Lasermaze, the installation consists of ultra-violet (UV) string woven through steel chains. The chains are affixed to a square, steel frame that measures 22 feet by 22 feet (6.7 metres by 6.7 metres).

Lasermaze installation in Detroit by George King Architects

"These materials have been selected due to their contrasting properties," the firm said. "The robust, rough steel scaffolding frame represents Detroit's past while the lightweight, glowing thread represents its future."

Lasermaze installation in Detroit by George King Architects

More than three miles (five kilometres) of thread – and 3,000 hand-tied knots – were used to create the labyrinthine structure, which features angled walls formed by the string.

Two sets of UV LED floodlights on opposing corners illuminate the space. The UV light interacts with the dye in the wool thread in a way that causes it to glow.

Lasermaze installation in Detroit by George King Architects

"Lasermaze's playful structure invites visitors to get lost within a unique surreal space as they journey toward the centre," said the firm. "The complex geometry of the form combined with the ethereal, semi-transparent nature of the walls add to the challenge of this spatial puzzle."

Lasermaze installation in Detroit by George King Architects

The installation was inserted into an underpass along Dequindre Cut, a linear park and pedestrian path that was built on the site of a former rail line that was decommissioned in the 1980s.

The conversion of the rail line was initiated in 2003, and a 1.2-mile (two kilometres) section of the Dequindre Cut opened in 2009. Graffiti that had been painted on concrete bridge abutments over the years was preserved.

Lasermaze installation in Detroit by George King Architects

The park provides a pedestrian link between the city's riverfront, various residential neighbourhoods, and the Eastern Market. Dating to the 1890s, the Eastern Market is one of the largest historic public markets in the US.

"Lasermaze's arrival on the Dequindre Cut forms part of a larger regeneration effort for the area, which includes street art, greenways and walking paths that link Detroit's riverfront with the bustling Eastern Market district," said the architect.

Lasermaze installation in Detroit by George King Architects

Lasermaze is on view until mid November. It was conceived as part of Detroit Design Festival, which ran from 26 September to 10 October.

Lasermaze installation in Detroit by George King Architects

King is the former founding director at NEON, and he also worked as a senior architect for Zaha Hadid. He recently launched in his own studio, George King Architects, which is based in London.

Lasermaze installation in Detroit by George King Architects
Axonometric diagram of the Lasermaze installation

Other projects that incorporate string include an installation at a French cathedral by Paris studio Atelier YokYok and an inflatable cube filled with thin ropes by the Croatian-Austrian design collective Numen/For Use.

Photography is by Keenan Hastings.