People Are Sharing this Puzzle that Supposedly Tests Whether You’re “Smarter Than an Architect”

Over at The Guardian, mathematician Alex Bellos has an article series in which he asks readers to send their solutions to a weekly puzzle. That sounds innocent enough, but this week’s installment might have caused architects to double-take: inspired by a reader who remembers it from his days as an architecture student, solving Monday’s puzzle suggests that a reader is “smarter than an architect.”

The puzzle itself looks somewhat like a child’s block puzzle. Three holes—a square, circle, and triangle—are presented. But unlike a child’s puzzle, in which you’d normally have square, circular and triangular blocks that fit the holes, the challenge here is to visualize a single block which would fit perfectly through all three holes.

via The Guardian

via The Guardian

“Architects will surely find the answer obvious,” explains Bellos. “The heads of the rest of us will look rather like the house in the picture above [the original challenge article features a photo of an inverted house], since it requires you to visualize an object in three dimensions, which is a challenge if your brain isn’t trained to do it.”

That kind of encouragement from a mathematician is nice to hear. However—and feel free to call us ungrateful for this—we here at ArchDaily think this puzzle might undersell architects’ 3D visualization skills. We can’t say we would want to draw the shape by hand like the winner selected by Bellos (we’d be much more comfortable doing it in 30 seconds on a simple modeling program like Sketchup), but we understood the principle of the solution in no time at all. Is this all it takes to be “smarter than an architect”?

What do you think? Does the puzzle test your 3D visualization capacities? And if not, do you know of a puzzle that does?

(For those who want to see it, the answer to the puzzle is illustrated nicely in this Youtube video.)

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