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Dublin: 2°C Monday 29 November 2021

Mirror mirror on the... exterior wall of your house

A trend for – very literally – mirroring the landscape surrounding a building is gaining international traction.

SO THIS IS some sort of amazing.

If you’re looking for an unusual place to holiday this year, would you consider the ‘Treehotel’ which lies just south of the the Arctic Circle in Sweden? Special attraction? You may not be able to see your room for the trees – because the exterior is entirely covered in a mirrored surface.

The design by Tham and Videgard architects is a masterclass in camoflage. If one were to get more philosophical, it could be a reflection (geddit?) on how humanity should consider making the least impact possible on its environment. The built environment disappearing into nature, rather than dominating it.

(Special note for ornithologists – the surface is covered with a special film that is visible to a bird’s eye and therefore prevents our feathered friends from flying straight into the exterior walls.)

It’s pretty special, this room ‘box’ – which has a plywood interior – is suspended among the treetops. It offers uninterrupted views of nature, but conversely doesn’t interrupt the passerby’s enjoyment of the wild landscape:

Source: Tham & Videgard Arkitekter

Source: Tham & Videgard Arkitekter

Source: Tham & Videgard Arkitekter

A similar effect was rendered to even more dramatic effect by artist Phillip K Smith III in California a year and a half ago. He showed off his Lucid Stead installation in Joshua Tree which used LED lighting and custom-built electronic equipment on an 70-year-old simple cabin – but also strips of mirror that render part of the structure ‘invisible’.

Source: royale projects/Vimeo

And can you take any inspiration from these for more modest home projects?

At the very least, they demonstrate that the commonly-appreciated effects of mirrors in decor – creating an illusion of space and reflecting light – should not just be limited to indoors.

Remember this lovely city mews home in Dublin that we showed you?

Source: Alice Clancy Photography via TAKA Architects

The very simple idea of using a reinforced mirror partition on the block-built bicycle shed at the end of the small courtyard really opened up that tiny outdoor area and reflected back the surrounding greenery to the residents when they sat at the window seat in the living area at the back of the house.

Have you ever tried mirrors in an outdoor space? We’d love to hear from you at news@thejournal.ie

About the author:

Sally O'Regan

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