8 Structures and Spaces That Use Mirrored or Reflective Surfaces in Interesting Ways

8 Structures and Spaces That Use Mirrored or Reflective Surfaces in Interesting Ways

By Michele Koh Morollo
Mirrors have long been associated with magic and illusion. The ability of mirrors to reflect, distort, bend, shrink, or expand things makes it a unique surface when used in architecture and design.

Below, we explore eight unusual ways that mirrored surfaces are used to make residences and other spaces more dazzling. Please note that it's important to know the pros and cons of using mirrored surfaces in your project. Make sure to consider all of the possible factors, and how it may effect the way the structure interacts with the natural environment.

Staab Residence in Arizona

Szu-Ping Patricia Chen Suchart and Thamarit Suchart of Chen + Suchart Studio used brushed-stainless steel and glass on the upper volume of this Sonoran Desert home. The glass, which was treated with a thermal coating, provides protection from the sun and creates a surface with a silvery, mirrored effect that captures the colors of the desert and mountain peaks.

Japanese designer Nendo cut mirrored, stainless-steel sheets into 2,000 rhombus-shaped sections, which he then strung together into an "ivy of mirrors." The installation of reflective shards is spread across a layered stone garden within the Sogetsu School of Ikebana in Tokyo.

In Hangzhou, China, Shanghai-based XL-Muse designed the Zhongshuge bookstore with forest-like rows of vertical, circular bookshelves and ceilings covered with mirrors. The mirrors make the shelves look much taller than they really are and give the reading hall a dream-like, Dali-esque quality.

Nature is present throughout the interiors of this French Alpine home, including in the bathroom, where the cross section of tree trunks serve as frames in a cluster of small mirrors. 

Using mirrored siding and plate-glass windows, Boston architect Stephen Chung created an optical illusion where the second-story of a house surrounded by nature disappears seamlessly between the foliage and gabled roofs nearby.

Six designers got together to create the 13-by-13-foot Mirrorcube in Treehotel in Harad, Sweden. The structure is made up of a reflective glass cube that's built around the trunk of a pine tree, which blends beautifully into the surrounding forest. 

Japanese architect Kosaku Matsumoto revamped the ground floor of a narrow Tokyo residence, replacing a window that frames a dull view of the opposite house with a 6.6-by-8.2-foot mirror that enlarges the space with a reflection of the interiors. "The idea was to abandon the use of this window that had no view, and instead reflect views of the interior space," says Matsumoto.

With an extension clad in mirrored glass that reflects the silhouettes of the existing brick house, "Mirror Mirror" is a home that shields its residents from view during the day, but exposes the extension's interiors at night.


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