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Rural reflections: Magical mirror house

Caitlin Hughes Caitlin Hughes
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An unusual new design trend is cropping up in the architectural world. The mirror house is somewhere between an 'invisible' building which blends in to its environment, and an optical illusion that makes us look twice, curiosity instantly engaged. Faced with this intriguing design, we attempt to make sense of the puzzle, comprised of reflected portions of landscape and endless blue skies. Though the angles of the mirrors are capable of distorting the surroundings, the finished product ultimately manages to draw in vast natural surrounds into a small and compact structure, achieving a beautiful and impressive result. 

Today we're going to take a closer look at two stunning examples in particular. The first was built in partnership with Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park as part of a Thesis project. The second is a summerhouse built for the garden of a family home in Hackney. The two projects have been created with very different purposes, but both are noteworthy in their own right. Let's take a closer look…


Entitled 'Lookout', this mirror house was designed and constructed by Processcraft as part of a final year thesis project. The idea was to provide a space of contemplation framing views of Loch Doine and Loch Voil whilst disappearing into the backdrop of the surrounding glen. In this shot, we can see how the mirror house opens up to reveal two seats clad in a Frake hardwood, which provide a comfortable and sheltered spot to enjoy the views. 

Inconspicuous design

'Lookout' is a timber frame structure clad in mirrored stainless steel laminated to birch ply. With only a small budget to work with, and a concern for minimising wastage, standard sheet sizes were used to create this innovate product. With the doors closed, we can appreciate how well it blends in to the stunning Scottish landscape, reflecting the green fields of the National park and shimmering waters of the Loch. 

Creating a mood

The exterior has an ethereal quality when the sky turns an ominous grey; oppressive clouds loom, mirrored and intensified by the cube as rain drops scatter over the surface, distorting reflections. 

Cutting edge design in a domestic setting

The new Summerhouse:  Houses by Ullmayer Sylvester
Ullmayer Sylvester

The new Summerhouse

Ullmayer Sylvester

The second design is a family summer house with a modern twist, courtesy of Ullmayer Sylvester Architects. The summerhouse was added to provide a safe place for the children to play, and it also doubles up as a painting studio with plenty of storage for gardening equipment, too. The building is clad in thin but strong and resistant skins to protect the summerhouse from the elements. Not only are they practical, the reflective skins reflect the diverse floral range in the garden, and reinforce the presence of the lush green garden

Playful design

The new Summerhouse:  Houses by Ullmayer Sylvester
Ullmayer Sylvester

The new Summerhouse

Ullmayer Sylvester

The project presents baroque ideas of illusion, distortion, camouflage and utilises nature to create a unique and modern building. The mirrored surface distorts the line between nature and man made design, exploring the modern relationship between the way we live and the natural world. 

A calming retreat

The new Summerhouse:  Garage/shed by Ullmayer Sylvester
Ullmayer Sylvester

The new Summerhouse

Ullmayer Sylvester

Here we can see the interior of the summerhouse, which has been decorated in a fresh, neutral palette that fits the name and purpose of the building. The exposed wooden beams and shelves add an earthy, natural feel to the space, whilst the floor tiles are cool underfoot, ideal during the summer months.

We hope you've enjoyed these two striking and unusual projects. For similar projects, take a look at this ideabook:

Homes for the modern British family

What do you make of these mirror houses? We look forward to receiving your comments!
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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