For me a secret place is a world away from eyes of the world. As I began imagining my secret place inside a pit, my first imagination was a mezzanine floor from where I can see gaze the sky as well as look at others. My first concept design had a large spanning slab, a mezzanine floor and 2 straight flight staircase.
Then realizing the unused space left I dropped the idea of mezzanine level. But orientation of the staircases and a slab spanning the width of the pit appeared to be glued my mind. Further, in order to reduce the unwanted space, the idea of bottle neck was introduced which also gave the design a new identity other than the orthogonal lines.
Now what if it rains, where would the people having an intimate conversation on -3 level go? To address the question some roof needed to be introduce as a flight of stairs is not enough for giving shelter. The solitude space also seemed too dark to be occupied so light need to penetrate inside.
Now this addressed the light and shelter pretty well but have you noticed the roof. Will it not hurt someone descending the staircase also in some way the extra space still persisted. Intimacy space had a nice balcony with a view of the congregation area but it also wasted space under the staircase and some part under the roof.
Towards the closure of the brief, my design stuck to an idea of angular slab and the orientation of the staircase with solitude space on lower level and intimacy on the upper with minimization of extra space.