Reflecting The World

By Bella Pallett

As you stand there looking at your reflection staring back at you, the mirror glints and sparkles in the early morning sun. Standing tall, it towers over you reflecting the world, almost disappearing into the sky as it copies its surroundings. You reach out to touch the crystal and gasp as you are copied, forgetting you are staring back at yourself. Read Reflecting The World here.

Mirrors have played a big part in architecture and design for centuries, created by heating sparkling aluminium or silver into a molten state before pouring it onto a plate of glass that has been polished to perfection, the material that is reminiscent of a sparkling crystal has endless possibilities.

Used in architecture for a multitude of functions, it first made a big impact in Eqypt when the Pharos of Alexandria was created in 280BC, standing over 100 metres tall. Known as the lighthouse in English, the Pharos was created to help guide ships into port at night and provide a safe landmark during the day.

Reflecting The World

At its apex is a mirror that reflected light during the day to function as the sparkling fire that was burned at night. Becoming one of the most prominent global examples of mirrors in architecture due to its function, it began to shape the way mirrors could be used for more than just their aesthetic appeal.

As mirrors were still greatly expensive and rare at the time, The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles was viewed as an outrageous and intense show of wealth. But the beauty of the 357 crystal-like mirrors that were situated throughout the palace could not be denied.

Having the aesthetic function of reflecting the expansive garden outside and bringing the exterior of the palace into the interior of the building to show off the beauty and power of the monarch, Louis XIV, the mirrors transform the palace. The mirrors also functioned aesthetically at night-time, as although not being able to reflect the gardens, the candles that were lit were amplified and reflected in the mirrors, appearing as sparkling flames reflected throughout the palace.

Reflecting The World

The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

Recently, the use of mirrors in modern architecture allow for a more sleek aesthetic. Polish firm Reform Atchitekt, founded by Marcin Tomaszewski, have taken using mirrors in architecture to a whole new level. The Mirror House is a two-story build located in a forested area surrounded by trees, and through the use of mirrors on the exterior of the bottom floor, the upper floor appears to float weightlessly among the trees.

Reflecting The World

Mirror House by Reform Architekt

Through utilising the mirrors reflective properties, the build appears as something otherworldly as it reflects the surrounding trees and shining sun so that it appears to float through the forest. Also using the mirrors reflective properties to capture surroundings, Japanese architecture firm bandesign has created a project called Mirrors.

“Mirrors” by Bandesign

Featuring two walls of a café covered in mirrored panels from top to bottom, the mirrors artfully reflect a row of cherry trees lining a river bank opposite the café.  The project has become extremely successful, particularly with tourists as during Japan’s cherry blossom season, the trees bloom and the sight is rumoured to be one of the most beautiful, transforming what would otherwise be an ordinary café through its reflections in the sparkling mirrors.

Also using mirrors innovatively to transform ordinary spaces, The Mirrorcube by Treehotel based in Sweden has crafted contemporary accommodation using mirrors to create something otherworldly. The Mirror Cube is a 4x4x4 meter cube with mirrored walls on the outside allowing the cube to seemingly disappear among the trees in the forest that it is set in.

Much like The Mirror House, The Cube also seems to float effortlessly in the forest, but instead of only half being created with mirrors, its entire outer structure is made from the sparkling material that allows it to seemingly disappear into the trees. The cube has an aluminium frame built around a tree and features six windows allowing a full view of the surroundings, creating a peaceful forest environment.

Reflecting the world

Mirror Cube at TreeHotel Sweden

Using mirrors as a design material provides endless possibilities and also allows artists to experiment, whether this is to accentuate existing structures or as a whole new form of design through innovative eye-catching elements. Through mirroring the environment around the structure, the building can be taken to a whole new level all through the crystal-like sparkle of a mirror.

If you enjoyed reading Reflecting The World, read Better Together here.

Read more about The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles here.