Interlocking Hidden Room
Harvard GSD Core Studio I 2016 Fall
Advisors: Andrew Holder

Assembly Model |Four Main Rooms and the Hidden Room

Room Assemblage, Camouflaged Accessibility and Perception


This project involves designing a group of five rooms, one of which seems to be hidden from the other four.
The program requires providing a means of access to the hidden room while controlling the degree to which the room becomes vulnerable to disclosure. The hypothesis of concealment requires consideration of the relationship between the visual, experiential, and conceptual bases of architecture.

In my project I studied the interlocking burr puzzle first in order to find a new paradigm of hiding,  then tried to develop the concept of physical and geometrical hiddeness into architecture simultaneously with the hiddeness in spatial experience.

Study of Canonical Burr Interlocking Puzzle


The canonical Burr Interlocking Puzzle(AKA Luban Suo, Kongming Suo ) is composed of six bar like blocks on which carved with specific grooves to interlock each other tightly in only one certain way. This puzzle was first invented to hide information inside the invisible part of the blocks. Different from traditional wooden joints, the puzzle is truly locked rather than joined with friction, and there is no gap between each blocks. And by interlocking, each block does conjunct with the other 5 blocks.

Each block is actually different slightly, but when interlocked together, the visible part are almost identical. The similarity hides the distinction of these blocks, which increase the difficulty to distinguish and reassemble them in a correct once the puzzle is taken apart. Hence we have to use annotations to indicate every block and every step.

Assembly Diagram |Reconstruction from Burr Puzzle to Hidden Room


Massing Model |Assemble Sequence of the Room Massings

The Hidden Hidden Room


Because the burr puzzle is a interlocking system where there is no space inside and requires 6 units, to design a room assemblage of 4 with a hidden room within needs a reconstruction from its rule.

Since each room interlocks with each other, thus the hidden room(X) and the outline of the four main rooms (A,B,C,D) are acutally determined by the space redistribution of the volume of the intersected parts.

Then every room is adjacent directly to every room. And every room has some space occupied by other rooms, which forms some bumped volume in the interior. 

The hidden room is hidden in those bumped volumes. 
And because of the flatness of the space character of each room, it becomes extremely difficult to distinguish the volume of hidden room among all these. Although the visitor in ABCD rooms can always see the exterior wall of the hidden room, somtimes they can even see through the interior of the hidden room.

And the hidden room is totally hidden from the exterior.


Exploded View & Circulation | Misorientation with Spatial Expectation

Into the Space with Visible but Unrecognizable Hidden Room


n the path touring around the whole building, the visitor will go all the way up from the first room (A) to the last room (D), and finally find an access to go down into somewhere in between every room. There is a threshold moment that the visitor are standing at the top of hidden room and notice that he is in both room D and Room B.

In the building, visitors can always see some rooms he is going to but he cannot tell how to get there, which creates an expectation for him. And he can look back at the place where he stayed minutes ago to orient himself. But not until he is in the hidden room he will not understand what he has already seen the hidden room in other rooms
The thickness also indicates the latent logic how the rooms  get assembled. 

Sections | Room Packed in Rooms


Units and Totality| Flatness of the Form and Perception