Secret Passage

"Ordinary things contain the deepest mysteries." - Robin Evans


At first it is difficult to see that conventional scaffolding that is a secret passage. It is easily disposable. It is temporary. It is invisible in the hard line drawings of the architect's plan, section, and elevation drawings. We as architects and builders know that it is inevitable in order to repair, restore, or build a building. 

Scaffolding comes in different materials, shapes and sizes, but it is usually made of modular units that are connected and repeated throughout. It transforms the facade of the building into an interior. It acts like temporary skin wrapping around the facade of the building, and it allows the architects into a transient platform between the exterior and the interior. 

The scaffold divulges the secrets of the building. It gives access to almost every single minute detail of the facade. We can probe and open up the facade on the scaffold. It acts like an operating room for the building. After we’ve done our job, in a day or two, the scaffold comes down and never will the exact one be seen again.


Seamus Heaney, 1939 - 2013

Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.


-by Febe Chong