Take a peek at Deformscape, a garden patio in San Francisco. The architectural sculpture is a practical solution to limited space, and a vertigo-inducing illusion of a wormhole ready to suck the neighbourhood into the Japanese Maple tree.

Continuing the theme of space-time warping optical illusions used in design, browsing architect Thom Faulders wanted to maximize usable flat space while simultaneously transforming the tree into a focal-point sculpture. He started the illusion by modelling a depression in space-time focused on the trunk in three dimensions.

Spinning the view to the top surface and lining it up with the angle-of-view from the window overlooking the patio, he could extract the pattern of lines that corresponded to the warped grid cells, creating the building blocks for the tile design.


Each tile was laser-cut from wood, then floated on an open grating system that allows water to run off into the tree's root system.

The final impact is simple, streamlined, low-maintenance, and incredibly geeky. To the anonymous patron of architectural experimentation in San Francisco: you totally got your money's worth. Although, I'm dying to know — does it also function as a sobriety test during social gatherings? Anyone who staggers into the tree, or stumbles when walking "out" of the vortex is cut off or gets an invite to crash on the sofa?


To see more photos, read the architect's statement, or hire this brilliant designer for your own projects, head on over to the Faulders Studio site.

Update: Jeff, resident of this fantastic patio,


to tell us the illusion is strongest when looking out over the patio, and is much less pronounced when you're out on it. Thus, his visitors don't need to worry about space-time warping sobriety tests partway through an afternoon's adventures.