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Big Labyrinthine Building
This building is so big and labyrinthine that few people know its deeper recesses. It might or might not contain big rooms or pieces of equipment, but a lot of the bulk is taken up by ordinary-sized rooms and corridors. Many are very old buildings, with successive generations building new attachments, cellars, and floors as needed. Overlaps a lot with Building of Adventure. Compare Clown Car Base.

Mobile Maze is possible.

Big Fancy Castle is a subtrope with medieval look-and-feel.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • From Soul Eater, the DWMA is intentionally designed to be confusing. It's for training the young meisters to be able to navigate even in confusing situations. Kids and even teachers get lost all the time. It's Played for Laughs.
  • In Super Dimension Fortress Macross/Robotech, Rick and Minmay actually get lost inside the SDF-1 (a Giant Robot big enough to fit a small city inside) for an episode or so. Later a party of humans find themselves hiding in an immense forgotten corridor on a Zentraedi ship that's even larger than the SDF-1. In the second season of Robotech, the alien invaders' colony ships are similarly vast.
  • Library Island of Mahou Sensei Negima!. It's basically a dungeon straight from a video game. There is an entire school club devoted to exploring it, who use rock climbing gear. And its still a functional library. Behind every waterfall, in the deepest of pits and tops of towers, down every winding and mazelike corridor, even in the crawlspaces, lie shelf after shelf of books. Books that take no damage from being behind waterfalls.
    • In the Negima!? anime series by Studio Shaft, the waterfalls are made of books too! There's even an apparent replica of New York City complete with a statue of liberty, all made out of books.
  • Las Noches from Bleach has some high ceilings and a county-sized opening in the center, but even without these, it's still roughly the size of a small country. Corridors can and do go anywhere. Oh, and they can be changed by someone sitting at the control centre.... letting Gin play with the buttons is a very bad idea.

    Comicbooks 
  • The Infinity Avengers Mansion from The Avengers, created by Hank Pym during Dan Slott's ongoing run. The Mansion exists in a quantum state in between dimensions, and it is, well... Infinite.
  • The Keyhouse Mansion from Locke & Key. The Magical keys found inside it are the main theme of the series, and all of the Keyhouse's secret have not been revealed yet.
  • The Rich family mansion in the Richie Rich comic books is large enough that its roof once served as an emergency runway for an airplane! The Rich Manor map has 2/3 of it labelled simply as "unexplored sections of the mansion".

    Film 

    Live-Action TV 
  • The TARDIS from Doctor Who. In one episode, the Doctor, looking for a remote room, leaves thread behind him so he can find his way back.
  • In Star Trek, the Jeffries tube passageways. In one Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, the crew heard music coming from where it shouldn't. It was Captain Picard playing an alien flute in a Jeffries tube; he liked the acoustics there.
    • The non-service portions of the ships is already confusing enough, Janeway still gets lost on Deck 13 even after seven years of commanding the ship.
  • The Centre on The Pretender
  • Red Dwarf is a ship the size of a city. In many seasons, the crew rarely left the ship and were still capable of finding new areas and adventure.

    Literature 
  • The House of Leaves is a house that is bigger on the inside and contains odd angles and possibly other things. When asked to draw it, a kid produced an all-black drawing.
  • The Mirror Of Her Dreams gives us Orison, a castle full of Bizarrchitecture.
  • Hogwarts, from the Harry Potter books.
  • The Tower of the Egg in Robert A. Heinlein's Glory Road.
  • Gormenghast
    • Also the palace in Michael Moorcock's Gloriana (Moorcock being a huge Peake fan).
  • The Labyrinth in Robert Silverberg's Majipoor Series. Home of the Pontifex, who is always the last Coronal to serve on Castle Mount. This strange city is in a desert region and is built almost entirely below ground. Many layers beneath the ground, the bureaucracy that actually runs Majipoor is busy with their statistical analyses and other "official" paperwork. The Pontifex himself, technically the top executive of the planet, is more or less stuck here.
    • The Pontifex's Castle on Majipoor's tallest mountain also counts.
  • The hospital in Connie Willis' Passage is like this, complete with bizarrely-connected buildings and elevators leading to many instances of "you can't get there from here", work crews randomly blocking passages, forgotten stairwells where the paint dried long ago and a never-open cafeteria. This is pretty relevant in a book where everybody keeps missing each other, hiding from each other and being chronically late, so much so that when at the end the doctor arrives in time to save the Littlest Cancer Patient it's a Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
  • Unseen University from the Discworld, though technically a complex rather than a building. It is noted that due to the high magic levels in the University and low amounts of reality in the Discworld 'verse, UU is constantly adding and subtracting rooms on a daily basis. A map of the place looks like a chrysanthemum in the process of exploding, and is only anywhere close to helpful for maybe a week at best.
    • This especially applies to the library, as large numbers of books disort time and space around them. In one book it is claimed that every used book store in existence belongs to this trope, and that their owners have actually gotten lost from other dimensions where erratic opening hours are a respected form of business.
  • There are several examples in Jorge Luis Borges's works, most notably the City of Immortals (The Immortal), which is a whole city built like this.
  • The Book of the New Sun has the House Absolute - the home of the Autarch. Not only is the House so vast and complex that its extents are unknown, but there is a secret "Second House" coextensive with the first. The Citadel of Nessus is also vast and labyrinthine, but arguably more a complex than a single building.
  • Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
  • The Ursula K. Le Guin short story "The Building" from the collection Changing Planes centres around a race of people who once a year travel an enormous distance to continue work on a gigantic, labyrinthine, never-to-be finished building for no purpose anyone (including the builders themselves) can discern.
  • The White Council Headquarters in Edinborough in The Dresden Files.
  • The Palace in Septimus Heap is described as such.
  • In the Dragaera novels, the Imperial Palaces — both the pre-Interregnum one in Dragaera City and its successor in Adrilankha — are larger than some cities.
  • The Rise in Tanith Lee's Wolf Star (Book 2 of The Claidi Journals). Also, the rooms move about, unpredictably and without warning.
  • In Sarah Monette's The Doctrine of Labyrinths, Marathine wizards live in a massive, magic-infused edifice, known as the Mirador, that encourages bizarre meetings and may spontaneously alter its arrangement. Kekropian wizards inhabit a similar building, known as the Bastion.

    Mythology 
  • The Ur Example is the palace of King Minos, in Knossos. It was the basis for the myth of the Labyrinth built by Daedalus to imprison the Minotaur.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Al Amarja's "D'Aubainne International Airport" terminal in Over the Edge.

    Videogames 
  • The level 'Slumberland' in Glider PRO is a perfectly ordinary 400-room house.
  • Every dungeon in in every The Legend of Zelda game. Its worth mentioning that a decent number of them are temples which really brings up the issue of where the prayer goes on, and why the faithful have to get by lava, bottomless pits, and several false paths to get to it.
  • Offices in City of Heroes go all over the place, with random elevators that service only two floors, small rooms suspended in larger ones that can only be reached by a walkway that in turn can only be reached via a different room, etc.
  • The Temple of Ix from Nox is built like a maze filled with traps, monsters and various confusing hallways. This is because it's designed to keep intruders from taking the Weirdling. Dun Mir and Castle Galava also count.
  • Valve seem to like these:
    • Black Mesa, from Half-Life.
    • The Enrichment Center in Portal and Portal 2.
    • Nova Prospekt and the Citadel in Half-Life 2.
    • City 17 is so riddled with multi-level underground tunnels that it effectively forms one in Episode 1.
    • The mysterious facility from the HL2 mod MINERVA: Metastasis, tunnel after room after tunnel after room after room after tunnel that just keeps going deeper and deeper underground. It's partially inspired by the "Silent Cartographer" map in Halo: Combat Evolved.
  • Lampshaded in Tales of Symphonia with regard to the second Renegade base, which Lloyd refers to in a skit as 'big for no reason'.
  • Receiver takes place in a randomly-generated building.
  • Anachronox can qualify as this; a planet covered in massive spikes that warp ships to different parts of the universe when approached correctly, filled with buildings and roads that randomly rearrange themselves to make travel even more difficult.
  • From the outside, Puzzle Clubhouse is an huge mansion cobbled together from strange and disjointed architectural elements. From the inside, it's even bigger.
  • Khamulon is built inside a mountain and is the size of a large city. It's also periodically rebuilt to make sure intruders get lost in the infinite number of empty halls and corridors, even if they had the whole place mapped out. The final level in particular is huge and doesn't even yield any rewards for people willing to explore it.
  • The manor in Quantum Conundrum has grown enormous from each generation of the family expanding it, and your uncle has only made it worse by redesigning the interior for use in his experiments.
  • Hang Castle in Sonic Heroes seems to extend endlessly in every direction, with the goal being to find a way inside. Once inside, the next stage, Mystic Mansion, consists of a series of rooms with puzzles in them and vast underground caverns with dumbwaiter systems, the goal being to escape. Mystic Mansion is a Marathon Level in a Sonic game. That's how huge it is. That being said, the castle/mansion returns to a much more normal size upon daybreak, suggesting it's actually an Eldritch Location.

    Webcomics 
  • The eponymous Gunnerkrigg Court
  • The Mansion of E
  • Castle Heterodyne of Girl Genius is sentient thanks to an AI created by a former inhabitant. By the time of the events of the main story, its consciousness has become fragmented, and its countless mysterious rooms, most filled with booby traps, cannot communicate with each other.
  • Tower of God takes place entirely in the eponymous tower, which is so big that every floor is roughly the size of North America, with tiny lights on the distant ceiling substituting for stars. It's so big that almost nobody in the tower even realizes that there's a world outside.

    Western Animation 
  • The Central Bureaucracy in Futurama:
    Professor Farnsworth: You can't just waltz into the Central Bureaucracy. It's a tangled web of red tape and regulations. I've never been, but a friend of mine went completely mad trying to find the washroom there.
    Leela: Then we'll need a guide, someone who's been there before.
    Professor Farnsworth: Oh, I've been there. Lots of times. *Maniacal Laughter*
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends; Madame Foster apparently once got lost in its halls for weeks.
  • The Place that sends you Mad from The 12 Tasks of Asterix is set in a Labyrinthine office building. The unhelpful personel only make it worse.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, the protagonists' massive Treehouse of Fun towers over the surrounding neighborhood and is full of odd rooms like an aircraft hangar and a "cheese repository." While its absurd size isn't usually a plot point, one episode has the kids trekking through the most of the treehouse to stop a lice infestation, while another establishes that there's a long-abandoned lawless section of it with tribal ginnea pigs.
    • Even better: each sector of the KND has their own massive treehouse that's likely just as labyrinthine!
  • Phineas and Ferb build one, of course.

    Real Life 
  • The Pentagon. It covers nearly 29 acres and encloses a 5-acre courtyard/park in the middle. It consists of five concentric pentagonal rings lettered A through E from the center, on five above-ground stories, with 10 radial corridors connecting the rings. It has 17.5 miles of corridor, some of which are ramps that can get you on the wrong floor if you're not careful to read the signs. Oh, and the interior decoration is very sober and very homogeneous, making getting lost all the easier. The layout has been known to confuse newbies, but someone familiar with the building can get from any point to any other point in seven minutes or less.
    • The US Department of Defense loves this trope. Another example would be the US Strategic Command headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska - a three-story building sitting atop at least the same number of basement levels, with corridors running underground for nearly a quarter of a mile connecting to entirely separate buildings.
  • Allegedly: the pyramids. In actuality most of their volume is cut stone / cement, but it is certainly plausible that undiscovered passageways exist.
    • Several have been discovered by modern technology, but left unopened. Some most likely played part in the construction process, while others may have religious significance, or burial chambers. They are largely unconnected to each other, and isolated from the main tunnels by tons of stone, making potential excavation tricky business.
  • The Gunkanjima Island in Japan. It tops on a coal mine; the area of the island is 15 acres, and its built-up area is 16 acres - meaning that the whole island is one continuous humongous maze of buildings - extending at some places over the sea.
  • The Winchester Mystery House (scroll down to #4). A house in San Jose, with 160 rooms, built like a maze to confuse ghosts - with stairways disappearing into the ceiling, doors opening into walls, and lots of 13's strewn about the place.
  • The British houses of parliament have more corridors in meters than the White House has floor space in square meters.
  • The British Prime Minister's office at Number 10, Downing Street also applies to this trope, since the apparently relatively modest-sized upper-class house has been expanded to all the neighbouring buildings while retaining their original fronts intact.
  • According to Jeremy Clarkson, among others, The BBC's Television Centre in west London is one of these. The central section is circular, and new visitors would often lose track of where they were and make two or three complete circuits before finding the right room. Now sadly closed, although a small section has been retained for future studios.
  • Any Steel Mill. The MMK integrated mill in Magnitogorsk, Russia, is a riverside of eleven kilometres of continuous buildings, furnaces, workshops, corridors and halls.
    • Likewise, paper and cellulose mills qualify as big labyrinthine buildings.
  • Many large hospitals qualify, as they're generally expanded as funding allows, and it's easier to get most donors and foundations to pay for a new wing than a separate building. It's not just some patients' lack of mobility that makes it necessary for orderlies to transport them around the place in wheelchairs: it's to keep them from getting lost on their way to Radiology.
  • Shopping districts in colder cities are often interlinked by skyways and underground corridors so customers can move freely while avoiding the weather, essentially merging them into this trope.
  • Colleges are rife with Big Labyrinthine Buildings; varying ages of buildings, additions, flirtations with experimental architecture, large buildings built on hills (so that there are short stairs, confusion as to what floor any given floor is, and sometimes the impossibility of using a single stairwell or elevator to get from the bottom to the top. Good luck if you're disabled.) The tendency of many colleges to have "buildings" that are connected to each other or even full-on contiguous translates into a lot of very confusing buildings. It's probably related to space and funding, as with the hospital example, except college donors prefer to finance buildings.
    • Padelford Hall at the University of Washington, housing the Math, Linguistics, English,Comparative History of Ideas, and Spanish departments, known for being hard to navigate (the third floor of C-wing connects to the second floor of B-wing being one of its more benign quirks). Also, the UW Medical Center, which is.....very, very large....
    • Several buildings of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, most notably the central "K" building - it's so confusing for new students that there is a map with a route planner on the website. Since the rooms were renumbered recently, it will be confusing for older students too.
    • Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California. From the surface it appears to be a series of disconnected buildings, but underneath the ground a network of tunnels connects many of the major buildings on campus. The tunnels are a hangover from the Cold War when most of the school was built, but have become extremely useful for enthusiastic students during the semi-Annual game of Humans vs. Zombies.
    • Oregon Health & Science University in Portland is both a college and a hospital. Is built on the side/top of a hill. It is possible to be on the third floor and cross a skyway and find yourself on the ninth floor. You can often see your destination outside the window, yet getting there requires going through more hallways than should fit between where you are and where you are going.
  • Large airports, particularly when one massive terminal building is used rather than multiple smaller ones. One example that comes to mind is Miami International (MIA), with all kinds of lengthy passageways used to access remote "headhouse" gates, to accommodate international arrivals, to transfer between flights, and to access ground transportation. It was really a labyrinth while the new North Terminal was under construction. Some airport terminals make use of moving sidewalks, or even peoplemovers to navigate within.
    • This is mostly true when the airport terminal has seen decades of haphazard expansions, improvements, and other modifications brought on, say, by new kinds of aircraft. Newer terminals built from the ground up may be just as large, if not larger, but are typically much less labyrinthine in nature. This is why Heathrow, for example, is replacing its older terminal buildings.
  • Resort hotels, especially the old-school "Borscht-Belt" resorts in New York's Catskill Mountains, such as Grossinger's and the Concord. These places were designed so that guests could walk between one of multiple lodging structures and: the lobby, the dining rooms, the indoor pool, the health spa, the nightclub, the game room, the on-site stores, and the coffee shop (some also had indoor mini-golf and/or a skating rink) — all without ever stepping outside.
    • Many Las Vegas hotels and their adjoining shopping malls are certainly large enough to qualify for this trope. They tend to be farely well signposted, but it can still be easy for visitors to get lost in them. The Excalibur, Luxor and Mandalay Bay effectively form a single vast air-conditioned building with malls connecting the hotel/casino areas.
  • Many larger fitness centers or gyms are like this. These complexes all tend to be connected so that visitors can be screened at a single entrance. This is why, after the member leaves the locker room, they have to walk past: the membership offices, the nursery, the pool, the aerobics studio, the cardio theater, the racquetball courts, the other set of locker rooms, etc. Plus, there's often a flight of stairs (or two) in there somewhere. Perhaps the workout is half over before they even set foot on the elliptical.
  • The Palace of Parliament of Bucharest, Rumania. A whole city district was demolished to construct it. Its dimensions are 270m by 240 m, 86 m high and 92 m underground. It has 1,100 rooms in 12 stories, with four additional underground levels currently available and in use (another four in different stages of completion). Its floor area is 340 000 m2 (thirty-four hectares! That is 77.3 acres for American tropers.) It is the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon.


Big Fancy HouseBuilding TropesBigger on the Inside
Big Fancy HouseBigger Is BetterBigger on the Inside
Bigger on the InsideSettingsThe Big Rotten Apple
GormenghastImageSource/LiteratureHansel and Gretel

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