Thursday, November 24th, 2011 - Architecture

Alright, so get this. Purely by coincidence I stumbled on another neat project involving the architectural use of mirrored surfaces. Just last week I wrote about Ring, an incredible installation in a Paris square that consisted of a circular wall of mirrored cubes that distorted optic space; a beautiful and confusing sculpture. But what I want to focus on today is a relatively new addition to the Tree Hotel, an artsy hotel complex set in the remote woods of Northern Sweden that consists of six unique tree houses (5 rooms and a sauna). These “rooms” are each designed by a Swedish architecture firm, and even with limited numbers manage to range from a giant bird’s nest to a UFO. (Maybe we’ll feature some of these others later this week).

Mirrorcube - image  on http://bestdesignews.com

Okay, but onto Mirrorcube. As I was saying, Mirrorcube is the latest addition to this already eclectic mix of commodes. It’s a 4x4x4m cube sheathed in reflective metal and impaled on the trunk of a surprisingly narrow tree. A 12m long rope suspension bridge leads up to the door from the forest floor. Inside, the room is modern and minimal, with plywood walls, a double bed, bathroom, and a rooftop terrace.

Mirrorcube - image  on http://bestdesignews.com

What makes it special though, isn’t the inside or the accommodations it offers, it’s the way it fits into the surrounding area. According to Tham & Videgard Arkitekter, the firm behind the Mirrorcube, “The construction…alludes to how man relates to nature, how we use high tech materials and products when exploring remote places in harsh climates (Gore-tex, Kevlar, composite materials, light weight tents etc).” And the cube is high tech, despite it’s simplicity. One of it’s most interesting features is that the reflective surfaces of the box were coated in an infrared film that’s invisible to the human eye, but keeps birds from inadvertently flying into its walls. That’s the sort of pragmatic thinking that is all too often missing from conceptual projects like this, and one of the things that makes the Mirrorcube live up to its intentions.

Mirrorcube - image  on http://bestdesignews.com

Like Ring, this is a structure that seems to simultaneously blend into and pop out of its environment. At a glance, you might not even notice it nestled in the low canopy, reflecting views of the surrounding landscape. But once you do notice it, you can’t look at anything else. I think that’s the magic of these mirror projects, they seem to exist on the edge of reality. We don’t actually see them, but they change the way we see space. They perform the ultimate act of architectural deference in turning our gaze outward, and enhancing the environments that they occupy. But in a way, they take the easy road in getting there. A mirror is a mirror, and while they are certainly eye-catching, might we wonder if this degree of effect can still be achieved without literally reflecting nature?

Sources: Architizer, Tham & Videgard Arkitekter, Tree Hotel.

Johnston Architects

Mirrorcube | isengdude | 4.5