Follow TV Tropes


Big Labyrinthine Building

Go To
Image by Ian Henderson.

Jared: I ate too much Subway. Where's your bathroom?
Tom Cruise: Oh, just the door down the hall there, Jared. no no, that's a closet. Go down more. that's a closet too. No, Jared, that one's a closet. No. That's a closet. No, that's a—that's a closet.
South Park, "200"

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. Also very likely to be used as a horror setting in order to give our main characters a large maze to navigate through where a lot of scary stuff can happen, and in video games so that the player has a large area to explore (with horror games combining both uses). Compare Clown-Car Base.

Mobile Maze is possible.

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


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • Liberty Island. 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.
  • The royal castle of Tanbarun in Snow White with the Red Hair has a labyrinth full of traps and moats underneath its main corridors which only the royal family seems to have any navigational knowledge of. This is probably a good thing as the castle guards have proven incredibly incompetent, twice being bypassed by small groups, once by three individuals one of whom was badly poisoned who were able to barge in on the crown prince with swords drawn and another time by two individuals who completely avoided any guards and were able to kidnap a personal guest of the royal family.
  • 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, Hikaru/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.

    Comic Books 
  • The Infinity Avengers Mansion from The Avengers, created by Hank Pym during Dan Slott's 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".

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The eponymous structures in the Cube film series have to be traversed to find the exit before the prisoners die. The first one has 17,576 rooms in total and the hypercube of Cube 2: Hypercube over 60 million, both filled with boobytrapped rooms.
  • Now You See It...: The Magic Mansion, which is both Max's home and the set for the reality show, is a large mansion of corridors, secret passageways, and even a giant underground study room hidden behind cryptic puzzles.
  • The Trial's very stylized depiction of the City with No Name where it's set sometimes comes across as this, with back hallways from the factory where Joseph K. works leading directly to the courthouse where the trial is to be held, and the like. This creates a very disorienting, dreamlike sense of being unable to navigate the movie's world, as well as subtly implying a sinister, monolithic quality to all the institutions and establishments.

  • The Ancient Future features Taliesin's hidden fortress; it's an absolutely gigantic facility of over a thousand rooms, including custom-made bedrooms, banqueting halls, trophy rooms, private dens for supernatural entities that he's befriend or tamed, and a gigantic war room from which Taliesin can survey ongoing emergencies. Given the sheer scale of the place, he advises Tory and Brockwell not to wander off lest they get lost in the maze of passageways - or get eaten by the more carnivorous entities that live in some of the larger rooms.
  • The Book of the New Sun has the House Absolute — the home of the Autarch. Any time a character asks for directions in there, the directions given are invariably both convoluted and involve absurd distances. 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 — and it's said the House Absolute connects to it too.
  • In one of the historical files for Brennus, a man named Emyr Blackhill, a scifi writer and reality warper of immense power, disappeared when he was twenty-two. Five years later, earth-based telescopes witnessed strange activity on the surface of Mars. It was Emyr, having used his power to not only create Martian life, but also a palace bigger than the state of California. Today, this is all that remains of the former empire after Blackhill's temporary conquest of the Earth, along his corpse transfixed to his throne.
  • 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 Rise in Tanith Lee's Wolf Star (Book 2 of The Claidi Journals). Also, the rooms move about, unpredictably and without warning.
  • 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 distort 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.
  • In Sarah Monette's 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.
  • 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.
  • In the Fairy Oak series:
    • The Periwinkle's house has only nine rooms, but they seem like a hundred because of how complex the system of stairs and halls is. Adelaide Pimpernel has called the house a labyrinth at least once, and Telli actually learned to move around the house with the different smells of the rooms, because only using her sight would only end with her getting lost.
  • The castle/city in Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast easily meets all of the criteria, and provides the page illustration. Given that the protagonist of Books 2 and 3 of the trilogy is the 77th Earl of Gormenghast, it is perhaps on the order of 2000 years old.
  • Harry Potter: Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic.
    • Hogwarts in particular has all kinds of tunnels and underground caverns that few or no people know about, like the subterranean passageways to Hogsmeade that are an important plot point in Prisoner of Azkaban and the giant room deep underneath the school that houses the basilisk in Chamber of Secrets. There's also the Room of Requirement, which is only there sometimes.
    • The Ministry of Magic is a sprawling underground complex (with "windows" that provide sunlight and fresh air, but don't actually open to the outside) accessed through a fake phone booth. The Department of Mysteries cranks this up, and is probably deliberately designed to be as confusing as possible.
  • 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.
  • Impractical Magic: Istima is a floating city where the Magic School built upwards and downwards until the entire island is riddled with buried city blocks, strange rooms, natural canals, and other microcosms. Most buildings are in an of themselves hidden labyrinths, for instance the Understacks.
  • Franz Kafka's very short story "An Imperial Message" is all about one of these.
    "[The messenger] would have to stride through the courtyards, and after the courtyards through the second palace encircling the first, and, then again, through stairs and courtyards, and then, once again, a palace, and so on for thousands of years."
  • The Underthing in The Kingkiller Chronicle and The Slow Regard of Silent Things seems to be the result of centuries of building and expansion. Only Auri seems to know her way around down there.
  • Daybreak, the citadel of the Knights of the Borrowed Dark, is apparently built this way on purpose in order to confuse attackers. This doesn't help Denizen much when he wakes up and discovers he's "twenty-five past late" for class.
  • Donnafugata Palazzo in Lampedusa's The Leopard has many abandoned rooms, and exploring them provides a way for the characters Angelica and Tancredi to spend time together during their extended betrothal.
  • 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 Mirror of Her Dreams gives us Orison, a castle full of Bizarrchitecture.
  • 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 Moment of Awesome.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire gives us Harrenhal. It's big. It's got five massive main towers connected by a veritable rabbit warren of courtyards, corridors, halls of varying sizes, rooms (also of varying sizes), and jury-rigged, tacked-on walkways... all of which are in various states of repair, some even open to the sky. And... that's not the worst of it. Those jury-rigged walkways? Have mostly been built to bypass the outright uninhabitable (and very, very unsafe) sections of the castle. Which includes at least three of the aforementioned towers that could rain either loose masonry, bats, or both down on you. New hires are explicitly warned not to enter sections of the place they aren't familiar with alone, since nobody will bother trying to find them should they get themselves lost and, e.g. plummet through a rickety floor to their deaths or die of hunger before finding a known zone. To walk through Harrenhal in full confidence of knowing where you are and how to reach one of the active kitchens from any given point? Live there for, say, two decades. Only then will you have had a chance to learn all the quirks.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The Imperial Palace on Coruscant is a mammoth building, with its grand corridor easily able to accommodate an Imperial Star Destroyer. In addition to serving as the base of operations for both the Imperial government and New Republic that followed it, the building served as a residence for senior government officials, guests, and a popular tourist attraction until its destruction in the Yuuzhan Vong War.
      • In Black Fleet Crisis novel "Tyrant's Test" it was noted palace employee Frona Zeffla died at her desk sometime around 17 ABY and her body was not discovered for over a year.
      • The reference work "Coruscant and the Core Worlds" notes Emperor Palpatine spent a good portion of his reign expanding the already huge palace until it encompassed fifty different buildings.
    • 500 Republica, which served as an exclusive residence for wealthy and politically powerful beings was said to be so large than weather patterns formed around the building.
  • The Stormlight Archive: In Oathbringer, Urithiru, ancestral home of the Knights Radiant, is a massive tower big enough to hold several large armies and their camp followers on just the first few floors, without even coming close to filling those floors entirely. The ventilation system alone is extremely complex to make sure fresh air gets everywhere, and thankfully it's not a technological or magical system, since the tower has been abandoned for thousands of years.
  • The Stone of Tear in The Wheel of Time is a fortress the size of a mountain, and the interior is designed to be confusing to anyone who manages to force their way inside until they can be killed through the murderholes in the ceiling.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • The TARDIS. In one episode, the Doctor, looking for a remote room, leaves thread behind him so he can find his way back. The actual size of the interior has been a matter of fan debate for decades, until "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" had the Doctor confirm on screen that it is actually infinitely large on the inside. This has allowed the writers to occasionally introduce new areas of the ship as plots demand (though this is moreso with the novels and comic strips).
    • The building that "Heaven Sent" is set in also qualifies. Perhaps unsurprising, given it was made by the Time Lords. Emphasized by the fact the interior of the building frequently shifts around.
  • Grey's Anatomy's hospital is infamously confusing, to the point Meredith getting lost in the pilot sets up a Brick Joke in Season 12. Another doctor managed to loose a patient in the halls.
    Parked her in a hallway, went to get her labs, couldn't find the hallway.
  • 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.
  • Severance (2022): The severed floor of Lumon is very maze-like in their design, with tons of endless, twisting hallways and a large variety of rooms and areas, some more mysterious than others. The workers are discouraged from fraternizing with other departments and prohibited from making maps of the hallways.
  • Star Trek:
    • The Jeffries tube passageways seem to transform any ship or base into a vast maze. 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 are already confusing enough; Janeway still gets lost on Deck 15 even after seven years of commanding her ship. (Then again, it is literally and figuratively the low point of Voyager; nobody wants to be down there except the guy who hates everybody else.)

  • 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.

  • Destroy the Godmodder: Erelye's Greyhold is a massive castle the size of a planet described as being so confusing that only someone who already knows his or her way around will avoid starving to death in it unless they have a guide.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Imperial Palace on Terra takes up most of the Northern Hemisphere, while the Astronomican is housed within a hollowed-out Mount Everest.

    Video Games 
  • Albion: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Control The oldest house is already difficult to navigate, it also periodically rearranges itself.
  • The level 'Slumberland' in Glider PRO is a perfectly ordinary 400-room house.
  • More likely than note in Dwarf Fortress. Dwarves like to live underground, and don't like the rain, so they dig into mountains or below the earth. Fortresses are three-dimensional, must expand with migrants, and integrate unexpected mineral veins or obstacles into their layout. The resulting bases get pretty sprawling... and they're still more tidy than the meandering, confusing mess that is procedural generated mountain halls.
  • Most of INSIDE (2016) is spent traveling further and further inside some kind of colossal underground facility, much of which has been abandoned and/or flooded. Other parts, however, remain busy and fully functional.
  • Every dungeon 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.
  • Minecraft: Story Mode: Soren resides in a large temple with dozens of underground chambers connected by a series of staircases. No one is happy about this.
    Axel: I hope that someday I'll love something as much as Soren seems to love stairs.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Chrysler Building from Parasite Eve. 70 of the 77 floors are randomly generated mini mazes that are loaded with enemies, dead ends, a treasure room, and only one exit to the next floor.
  • From the outside, Puzzle Clubhouse is an huge mansion cobbled together from strange and disjointed architectural elements. From the inside, it's even bigger.
  • 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.
  • The Longest Shortcut in Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, complete with false floors and mirror rooms.
  • Receiver takes place in a randomly-generated building.
  • 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.
  • The entirety of Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion may as well be this, since asides from the occasional set of rooms (such as when you're about to meet a specimen), the entire layout of the mansion's interior is randomized per play-through in the main game. The game even lampshades this to an extent as a rare room you can occasionally get into shows a map of the mansion saying "You are here" and all the rooms are constantly shuffling themselves.
  • Sunless Skies has several:
    • Piranesi is this to its prisoners due to having lanterns chained to their wrists that cause them to either hallucinate or truly experience Alien Geometries within Piranesi, preventing them from escaping until their gaol-time is up.
    • Langley Hall is, as far as anyone knows, plain mundane Bizarrchitecture, being huge and maddeningly complicated, so much that it takes using crew and supplies to go on actual, lengthy expeditions to find specific rooms.
  • Lampshaded in Tales of Symphonia with regard to the second Renegade base, which Lloyd refers to in a skit as 'big for no reason'.
  • Constantine's mansion in Thief: The Dark Project was intentionally built so (and plain bizarre) to test the protagonist.
  • The Secret World: The Illuminati headquarters, the Labyrinth, was architected by a mad man and built by contractors that were executed (or simply sealed in the walls) afterwards. The lower levels are inhabited by board members that need to be isolated from other people for various reasons and no one knows precisely how deep the tunnels lead.
  • The headquarter of Eyedol Games in Zampanio Sim has it's own rules of geometry.

  • 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 
  • 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 Guinea pigs. In fact, each sector of the KND has their own massive treehouse that's likely just as labyrinthine!
  • The titular Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is this. In the House of Bloo's Pilot Movie, it foreshadows this with Madame Foster apparently once got lost in its halls for weeks. And "Dinner is Swerved" showcases this aspect of the house best. With Bloo and Mac have trouble navigating their way to the dining hall and are almost driven mad because of it.
  • 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 bathroom 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*

    Real Life 
  • Ikea stores fit this trope. They are deliberately designed with long, meandering paths through the store. This way, it's nearly impossible for a customer to head straight toward whatever item they wanted. Instead, they're forced to spend a significant amount of time wandering throughout the store which increases the chance that other merchandise will catch their eye along the way. The stores also have doors semi-hidden all throughout to provide shortcuts for employees.
  • Malls in general are intentionally designed to be huge, labyrinthine and confusing — every second spent lost trying to find the shop you're looking for, is a second spent staring at other stores that could potentially entice you to buy even more.
  • 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 sits atop 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 13s 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 official residence/office at 10 Downing Street also applies to this trope, since the apparently relatively modestly-sized upper-class house connects through to all the neighbouring buildings while retaining their original fronts intact.
    • In the words of fictional Prime Minister Jim Hacker in his "diary", i.e. the Novelization of sitcom Yes, Prime Minister, a difficulty in adjusting to his new home as PM is that it's more like two houses back-to-back, "joined by corridors, stairwells and courtyards. Each house has five or six floors, and ... the main problem in finding one's way around Number Ten is that, because it is two different houses, because of subsidence during the war, and because the ground slopes away towards the back, it's almost impossible to know what floor you're on once you're upstairs."
    • These disorienting effects, combined with iconic but rather unassuming front entrance (it looks like just another London townhouse, if an expensive one), has led some to joke it's actually Bigger on the Inside; BBC political journalist Andrew Marr once dubbed it "the brick TARDIS."note 
  • 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 cities with very cold or (to a lesser extent) very hot climates are often interlinked by skyways and underground corridors so customers can move freely while avoiding the weather, essentially merging them into this trope. Montreal's Underground City and Toronto's Path are the prototypical cold-weather examples, each with over 30 kilometers (about 20 miles) of tunnel; the Houston tunnel system is the equivalent hot-weather system, with about 6 miles (10 kilometers) of tunnels. (The safety issues created by snow and ice in cold climates create a bigger advantage for an indoor setting there.)
  • 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.
    • The Main Building of the Moscow State University. One of the famous Stalin's Sisters, it's a huge skyscraper on the top of a hill overlooking the Moskva river, and this city in the city contains everything a student or a professor might need, from a dormitories and apartments to barber shops, dry cleaners, a post office and a police station, not mentioning such trivialities as labs and classes. And as for its basement, there are still Urban Legends about what's hidden there (actually, just a power plant and HVAC machines), and where do its passages connect.note 
    • While the main campus of the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, Russia, is a new construction, its main compound is a veritable maze of six huge buildings constructed on a hillside and wrapped in a network of passages and skyways, so you can actually walk a whole kilometer from the Building E on one side of the campus to the Building S on the other one without ever going outside. At least there's uniform numbering of the floors, but this still doesn't help much.
    • The main building of Aalto University in Espoo, Finland (by Alvar Aalto) contains even several underground spaces which are not in any drawings or blueprints and do not officially exist.
  • 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.
  • This is an Exploited Trope for casinos, especially resort-types that trend toward being huge and labyrinthine in cities with even a mild gambling scene unless either property value, zoning laws, or other ordinances restrict their size — the Peppermill in Reno, for example, is a series of towers and outdoor villa style spaces connected by a maze of gambling spaces and restaurants. A guest that is having a bit of trouble finding the exit is a guest that is more likely to stay inside and play their games (and hand over their money). Next time you find yourself in a casino resort, see how many of these features you notice: floors and pathways designed to put in as many gently-curving paths as possible rather than sharp orthogonal intersections so as to disorient someone using them, the lack of exterior windows in areas besides guest rooms so you don't know where the outside wall is or whether it's daytime or nighttime, the lack of clocks in either guest rooms or gaming areas so you don't notice the passage of time (even in time periods prior to the spread of cell phones which have clocks on them), relatively dim environment lighting especially in the gaming areas so that the machines' bright lights and not the exits attract the eye.
    • Many Las Vegas hotels and their adjoining shopping malls are certainly large enough to qualify for this trope. They tend to be fairly 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.
    • The casinos of Atlantic City, New Jersey are similar to the Vegas ones. The largest—particularly the Tropicana, the Borgata, and Harrah's—are fully enclosed integrated malls-cum-hotels-cum-casinos. There's also a continuous indoor series of connections between Caesar's Palace and Bally's on the Boardwalk.
  • 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 the Parliament of Bucharest, Romania — the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon. A whole city district was demolished to construct it. Its dimensions are 270m by 240m, 86m high and 92m 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 (34 hectares/77.3 acres). It is currently occupied by two parliamentary chambers, with offices for all the members and their staff, three museums, and a conference centre, but it's still estimated that only around 30% of it is used. It is the heaviest building in the world, due to containing vast quantities of concrete and steel, wood and bronze, the small consideration of nearly 500 chandeliers and a million cubic metres of marble.
  • The Barbican art centre in the City of London, which includes three theatres, three cinemas, a concert hall, exhibition halls, two art galleries, a two-floor public library, a huge glassed-in atrium (the second biggest conservatory in London, after the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew), a conference centre, and several miscellaneous function rooms. Ever since it was opened in 1982, visitors have been complaining about how hard it is to find your way around, and various internal rearrangements, floor-number reassignments, and signage systems, have failed to solve the problems. Gets extra points for being surrounded by a collection of office and residential buildings that themselves consist of a labyrinth of ground-level streets and upper-level public walkways and staircases, to the point that yellow lines are painted on the floor from the edges of the area to help you get to the entrances of the art centre.
  • Hong Kong's Kowloon Walled City was an oblong rectangle of just 6.5 acres, only a few hundred feet on each side, yet was absurdly tightly packed with a ten-storey-high collection of ramshackle blocks. Before its demolition in the early 1990s, these housed 33,000 people. This figure gave it a population density of an astounding 1,255,000 inhabitants per square kilometre or 3,250,000 per square mile — making it the most densely inhabited place on earth. It was a major inspiration for Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, and for Gotham City's 'The Narrows' in Batman Begins.
  • The old Greyfriars Bus station in Northampton, UK. It was voted the ugliest building in Britain for several years running, cost the council millions of pounds, and was nigh impossible to navigate. Its car park closed down in 2007 because chemicals were leaking through it, making the travel centre even less travel friendly. A Top 10 Ugliest Buildings programme of Channel 4 did a test and it took them 15 minutes to navigate between connecting buses. When push came to shove, the Northampton city council opted to blow it up and build a new one instead because it was easier that way.
  • Train stations with multiple platforms can get like this and it is not uncommon to end up having to go over or under multiple platforms to get where you need to be. Special mention goes to Edinburgh Waverly. It has multiple levels, entrances that go onto different streets, eighteen platforms and a shopping area interspersed throughout. It does not help that the platform numbers are not laid out very logically.
    • Châtelet-Les Halles in Paris is the connection hub of 5 Métro lines and three RER suburban rail lines. It's entirely underground on account of being an underground railway station, it's large enough to house small supermarkets within the station, and missing a single direction sign is very likely to make you hit a dead end at the sudden sight of the RER turnstiles where your Métro ticket is not valid.
  • The Beverly Hills Supper Club outside Cincinnati. Built in The '30s as a simple nightclub, by The '70s the owners had constructed numerous additions, mostly made out of wood, turning it into a maze of event rooms and corridors laid out with no consistent design. The building had no sprinkler system or fire alarm, and very few fire exits. When a fire broke out in 1977, the confusing layout of the building hindered patrons from escaping, and ultimately 165 people died.
  • The Palatium (Palatine Hill) in Rome, Italy would be one if the buildings were not ruins. The Palatinum was originally the site of the Imperial residence in Rome, and it covered the entire hill. It expanded little by little, with each successive emperor adding more and more rooms and buildings until it expanded to eventually cover the whole hill. It was abandoned in 286 AD when the capital was transferred to healthier Mediolanum (modern Milan) from the malaria-ridden Rome. The ruins are still extant.
  • The House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin is a labyrinthine house built atop a chimney of rock by eccentric genius Alex Jordan. He opened it to the public in 1960, and now it's a tourist attraction. Be prepared to spend all day there if you visit it going from room to room to room through narrow, winding corridors. The experience is like visiting all the quirky, strange museums of an entire vacation, but in one building. The place contains such bizarre things as a room that stretches out and narrows to a single point (the Infinity Room), a whole bunch of coin-operated mechanical music machines, a full-size indoor carousel, a smaller carousel that has dolls riding on it, a huge collection of toy circuses, a full-size whale sculpture with a rowboat in its mouth, and a steam-punk inspired room full of huge brass brewery cauldrons and movie theater organs. And that's just the beginning.