Monday, November 3, 2008

Puzzling Home Design

So you hire an architect to design your home. It's built, you move in. Four months later your son is having a sleepover and his friend discovers that the radiator grill has a ciphered message addressed to the son.... and the game begins.

The house -- actually a 5th Avenue apartent in New York City -- was designed by architect Eric Clough for a family of 6. After the father requested a poem he had written be hidden somewhere in the house, Clough went on a puzzle building spree intended to "spark a child's mind."


In any case, the finale involved, in part, removing decorative door knockers from two hallway panels, which fit together to make a crank, which in turn opened hidden panels in a credenza in the dining room, which displayed multiple keys and keyholes, which, when the correct ones were used, yielded drawers containing acrylic letters and a table-size cloth imprinted with the beginnings of a crossword puzzle, the answers to which led to one of the rectangular panels lining the tiny den, which concealed a chamfered magnetic cube, which could be used to open the 24 remaining panels, revealing, in large type, the poem written by Mr. Klinsky.

Read about the whole thing here, with many pictures at the New York Times.

Hat tip to Malsperanza, commenting on Holly Black's LiveJournal.

7 comments:

Miss Dorian Grace said...

This is quite possibly one of the most brilliant things you've featured on your blog.
I wish modern architects and home designers would incorporate puzzles and codes into houses more often; there is so little mystery in life today and things like this spark a little light of adventure where there normally is none.

Now to contact that architect and ask if code-ifying my house would be plausible....

Athene said...

This is quite possibly my new most favorite thing ever.

Nothing beats puzzles! :) This reminds me of my aunt's new boyfriend, actually.... He is a woodworker, and he's been leading her on a wild goose chase of a treasure hunt, with similarly well-hidden clues and encryptions.
We need more things like this, I think, to lessen the dullness of everyday living.

Malsperanza said...

Do you know Gillette Castle in East Haddam, CT? It's sort of steampunk avant la lettre. The lightswitches are wooden pegs, the doorknobs and latches are all handcarved wood, and there are secret mirrors so that Gillette could spy on his guests and the servants. There's also a secret staircase. The exterior is all sort of gothick fieldstone, and the dining room table slides on tracks.

The website doesn't have great pix but here's a lightswitch:

http://z.about.com/d/hartford/1/0/k/gcastle7.jpg

I also love Fonthill, in Doylestown, PA, not too far from Philadelphia. It's a castle built by a guy named Mercer who collected tiles. The interior is all tiles. Mercer also collected antique tools, and has them in a separate museum nearby.

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/ny/travel/henry-chapman-mercers-fonthill-030727

holly cupala said...

This is the coolest thing I've seen in a long time. How lovely it would be to live within a literary puzzle.

Home interior design said...

I wish modern architects and <a href="http://www.homedug.com/home designers</a> would incorporate puzzles and codes into houses more often; there is so little mystery in life today and things like this spark a little light of adventure where there normally is none.

Home interior design said...

I wish modern architects and home designers would incorporate puzzles and codes into houses more often; there is so little mystery in life today and things like this spark a little light of adventure where there normally is none.

daysease said...

I love this!! I have always hoped to find hidden compartments or doors or whatever in any of the houses we lived in, to no avail. This just transports me back to those childhood desires. Love this post as well...

I would love to incorporate something like that in my home... hm...

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