It’s a Trap . . . Room!

Today’s topic is not about whether or not the Death Star shields are still up. Instead, we are discussing a different kind of trap. This is one created by cartographers: the trap room.

The idea of a trap room is create a false room, be it a closet, a freight elevator, an employee bathroom, some false feature that is unique to your map, an intentional mistake. If this trap room was to appear in one of your competitor’s maps, you would instantly be able to prove they simply copied yours. Simple, subtle copy protection.

This is valid for any kind of map your cartographer creates. You can see a great example of Google doing this in one of their maps in this post on BLDGBLOG. A path is rendered like it is a road, easily identifiable if copied. Google has also created a trap city: Argleton. Reading up on this idea led to a question: could this be used in architecture?

Unlike maps, architectural plans are usually single use; you build that project once and only once. There are cases where a single plan is created several times (ex: spec homes, fast foot restaurants, store layouts), but these are limited. Either way, plans are generally only accessible by the architect, the builder, and the owner. The main concern for an architect would be that the owner took the plan and had some other contractor build it.

The simplest solution would be a reverse “trap room.” Rather than adding something unneeded to the plan, simply remove vital information. That vital drawing would be held unto until the builder needed it for that part of the project. The downside is that it could potentially cause complications, with work prior to the detail not done properly for everything to work out in the end. It also might affect the price, causing unexpected expense in the middle. Not an ideal situation.

Actual trap rooms would be more difficult though. The plans are being used to actually create the space, rather than simply to document it. Anything added would change the construction, potentially screwing up the entire project. Suddenly, your trap room is actually a REAL room.

Trap rooms would work in remodeling projects though. Rather than adding a trap room to new design, put it in the existing building. If you add a nonexistent closet in some room far away from the project, it won’t have any effect on what gets built. But it will show up if someone simply redrew the plan exactly.

Trap rooms are a unique copy protection method. They work best in documenting existing spaces, easily revealing copycats. But they would work in architecture as well, with a little bit of creative thinking.

-That is all.