The Enigma is unlocked – the inside story

Tuesday 10 Aug 2010

Peter Murray, Founder Director of the LFA presents the Enigma prize to Kei Boon Yeoh in London

The Architect’s Enigma challenge launched at the London Festival of Architecture was created to encourage international participation in this bi-annual celebration of London architecture. So successful was the challenge that over 60 people entered from 18 countries.

The idea was simple. The Enigma ‘shape’ was linked to the storyline of Charles Bancroft’s thriller, The Architect, all the participants had to do was find the link. The idea was simple but finding the link proved to be a bit harder. Each week further clues were released and the prize money doubled. After the second clue was published, claims for the prize started coming in.

Catherine Economou from Davlia, Greece, said: “This shape is the diagram of the storyline of the 'Architect'. It is the author’s notes on the plot of the novel. This shape should be read and viewed horizontally like the ground plan of a building, not vertically. It starts and ends at a sharp point, but shifted in position. This represents the beginning and the end of the novel when the architect’s personal and professional life was at a relatively smooth going state. Intermediately we can see the fluctuations of various events occuring in the architect’s life reaching at some point to the zenith of distress and eventually taking a down turn back to a problem reduced state.”

Patricia L. Hurley from Longueuil, Quebec thought: "Rob Gilbert's penchant ('pen' chant) for the 'finer' things in life may well derive from his 'ink-lination' to keep a full reservoir to apply his 'Architect's Mark' at the appropriate location! It's a fine line of work that Rob selected. I believe the shape represents an ink nib.”

Urs Berger from Southport, Queensland: “Frank Gehry's Serpentine Pavilion - Rob loved bold and adventurous ideas and admired the perfectly formed but apparently random structure. He found himself having sex with an exciting woman in Frank's Folly, but knew that he had absolutely no say in the matter.”

Nicole Howell from North Vancouver: “One of Rob's 'sketches' from in the hospital, this particular image depicting the cardiac wing of the hospital Husani works at. The colour symbolised blood and life, the image a 'wing' shape, but abstract in his incoherent immobilised state.”

But it was on Monday 5th of July, at precisely 7:29 PM (London time) when Malaysian architect, Kei Boon Yeoh clicked 'submit' that the code was finally cracked. "The shape is made out of several points. Transfer these points at the right scale onto the map of London, and they will correspond to locations mentioned in the book. More specifically, these will relate to areas in the West End of London (hence the clue phrase 'western extremity') - like for example, The Wolseley, J Sheekey, Rasa Samudra etc.”

Read Kei Boon Yeoh's account here...

For the record, the clues were:

Clue 1. Sat 26th June 2010
“As Rob Gilbert attempts to map out his life, his penchant for the finer things in life continue to haunt him… “

Clue 2. Sat 3rd July 2010
“At the western extremity, Frank’s Folly was an apparently random structure…”

The clues unravelled:

map: directly refers to the physical map (the shape)
Penchant for finer things: Wining and dining
Haunts: Rob’s favourite haunts.
Western extremity: the most western part of the shape/map was Frank Gehry’s Serpentine Pavilion where Rob Gilbert was drinking Champagne amongst other things.

And finally the all important points making up the shape are revealed below, clockwise from Western Point;

The Serpentine Pavilion (Frank Gehry)
The Rising Sun
One Alfred Place
The New London Architecture Centre
Pizza Express, Holborn
J. Sheekey
The Wolseley

WAN, the publishers, Raptor Press and the author, Charles Bancroft would like to thank all the participants and hope that they had as much fun taking part as we had organising and running the Enigma Challenge, and to Kei Boon, "Champagne?”

For those people who haven’t yet read The Architect, click here…

Key Facts:

United Kingdom

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