12 Mind-Boggling Buildings That Use Mirrored Glass
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12 Mind-Boggling Buildings That Use Mirrored Glass

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By Jen Woo
These mirror-clad homes, cabins, and hotels seem to disappear into their surroundings.

In 2013, when a decaying wood shack in the middle of Joshua Tree National Park was transformed by visual and conceptual artist Phillip K. Smith III into the installation Lucid Stead, the internet went wild. Long, strip mirrors replaced alternating planks of the cabin, resulting in a space that was half there, and half not. Not too long after, another mysterious structure appeared in Coachella Valley. Part of the contemporary art exhibit Desert X, Doug Aitken’s Mirage was a ranch-style house completely clad in mirrors, reflecting the desert at every angle.

The success and buzz of the two projects reflect—pun intended—the mystery and magic of mirrored glass as an architectural surface, and its ability to warp the very environment around it. Below, we round up the most alluring mirrored projects.

Los Terrenos by Tatiana Bilbao

Named Los Terrenos, meaning The Terrains, this retreat in Monterrey, Mexico, was designed by Mexico City–based architect Tatiana Bilbao to reflect the lush woodland hillside it sits on. The dwelling consists of two volumes made of rammed earth, terracotta clay bricks, and a facade clad in mirrored glass.

Nestled within Verholy Relax Park in Sosnivka, Ukraine, these contemporary guest cottages by YOD Design Lab offer a sense of solitude and a meaningful outdoor connection. Highly reflective windows mirror the forest, while an outdoor terrace wraps around each cottage. Inside, interiors are swathed in organic hues and materials to allow the views to be the focal point—each dwelling is arranged so that windows peer at pines rather than another building. The houses are even installed on geo-screens to save the root systems of the surrounding trees in the forest, to prevent them from being cut down. 

The Lake Cottage embodies all the playful aesthetics of architecture firm UUfie via a modern cabin mirroring its surrounding forest near Ontario's Kawartha Lakes. The two-story structure, developed as a home extension, is camouflaged against a leafy landscape with one-way mirrored glass. Inside, the space offers uninterrupted views of the great outdoors. The 700-square foot cabin is UUfie’s modern take on a tree house with interior and exterior spaces that connect to mimic the experience of living among the branches of a tree.

Chen + Suchart Studio used coated glass and stainless steel over thick, sandblasted masonry walls to reflect the shifting hues of the desert sky and rugged landscapes of the Sonoran Desert. The Staab residence was built on creating a sense of privacy, without obstruction of the views of the McDowell Mountains. While nestled in a suburban setting, the 3,000-square-foot abode offers a stark contrast in design and ethos to the homes around. In addition to its contemporary bend, the house was designed to take in a multitude of focal points from two different levels, allowing for both distant and local views. 

For architect Stephen Chung, the design of his Wayland, Massachusetts, home was all about blending into the natural environment. The first floor is a serene composition of white and wood. The demand for a domestic office space inspired him to build up, adding a second floor for him to "experiment." In a departure from the Cape Cod aesthetic that rules his block, he was able to give the addition a modernist take, while also literally reflecting the existing landscape of the neighborhood. The entire 1,100-square-foot adjunct that encompasses his second story office-studio, master suite, and fort for his two young sons is swathed in mirrored siding and plate-glass windows. 

Perched on a roof in a small city just north of Holland, Mirror Mirror is a minimalist haven designed by Remco Siebring. Channeling the principles of a tree house, the extension is covered in mirrored glass to reflect the old contours of the house as well as roofs, gardens, and trees. Inside, a monochrome, wood palette creates a clean sanctuary to take in the views. 

Tree Hotel in Sweden is known for its array of unique dwellings from their Bird’s Nest to the UFO, all of which are suspended above ground. Husband-and-wife owners Britta Jonsson Lindvall and Kent Lindvall enlisted several different designers to develop their contemporary tree house community, which has garnered international interest. One of the most iconic of their dwellings is the 13' by 13' Mirrorcube made of reflective glass, straddling the trunk of a pine. From the outside, it appears as if there’s nothing there at all, while inside, warm interiors are swathed in light plywood with three windows, a sky light, and balcony hidden behind the mirror facade—which means you can step outside the box without being seen.  

As one of the hippest new hotels in Mexico City, the JSa Arquitectura-designed Carlota is a hot spot teeming with work from emerging designers and young interior designers. A central courtyard still remains the heart of the 36-room stay with a pool and market-centric restaurant. The motel-turned-boutique hotel works off of the building’s decades’ worth of renovations to refurbish its more glamorous elements, while ditching dated touches. The mirrored-glass facade allows it to reflect the bustle of the street.

Just outside Estonia is the ÖÖD Hotel, a prefabricated, mirrored house that can be plunked down as a guest stay. Designed to blend in to its surroundings, ÖÖD is ideal for both natural and urban spaces. Glass is attached to the steel structure, spanning three sides of the house, while the back wall consists of heat-treated wood. Natural ash wood makes up the contemporary interiors and comes equipped with a queen size bed, ergonomic kitchen area, and bathroom. 

Located in Tokyo, Japan, the Mirror Window is a partial renovation of an office area within a building complex that is home to a workshop space, office, and contemporary art gallery. Kosaku Matsumoto completed the project following three months of an on-site residency to tackle a barren view of an adjacent house. A mirror was installed behind an existing window along the span of a concrete fence, while open-air space was created through reworking windows and exploring reflective effects of the mirror. Peering out the window, one can now take in not only a reflection of the interiors, but also adjacent walls and the neighborhood.  

Previously owned by French architect Jacques Carlu, the Jean-Paul Gaultier–designed apartment at Trocadero in Paris is a journey through a multitude of surreal scenes with dizzying lines, furniture protruding from the walls, and a jungle of plants. On the terrace, mirror tiles and protrusions create a fractured landscape.

One of the few five-star hotels in Jerusalem, Mamilla was the talk of the town as its ultra modern aesthetic was thought by some to threaten the sacredness of the Old City. However, once architect Moshe Safdie and designer Piero Lissoni took the reins, all became well. Following municipal law of building with Jerusalem stone, Safdie added a contemporary twist with the material. Inside, the Mirror Bar is lined with reflective glass, accented with mood lighting via glittering fixtures and wood details.

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