The new architecture of Belarus responds to an interplay of history and culture. Regional forces have defined the built environment and its evolution, and in turn, shaped the lives of the Belarusian people. Since the landlocked country attained its independence in 1991, it has had the most development in its cities, where two thirds of the population live. Over the last ten years, a range of new buildings have begun to paint a picture of its emerging design culture.
Humans have used mirrors since as early as 600 BCE, employing highly polished obsidian as a basic reflective surface. Over time, people began to use small pieces of gold, silver, and aluminum in a similar manner, both for their reflective properties and for decoration. By the 1st century CE, people had started using glass to make mirrors, but it was only during the European Renaissance that Venetian manufacturers began making mirrors by applying metallic backings to glass sheets, remaining the most common general method of mirror manufacturing today. Since then, mirrors have continued to play both a decorative and functional role in architecture, serving a clean, modern aesthetic despite its ancient origins. Below, we investigate how mirrors are made, provide a brief history of mirrors in architecture, and offer several tips for architects looking to use mirrors in their designs.
In 1977, a New York Times article by Carter B. Horsley proclaimed that “Glamorous Glass Bricks Are Booming:” once a “less than first-class” material, it was beginning to gain acceptance among architects in residential and restaurant projects for its translucence, privacy, visual interest, and sense of order. However, following the industry’s brief but widespread use of glass bricks, many now associate the material with outdated 80’s architectural styles, an aesthetic that few seem interested in reviving. Yet pioneering contemporary architects have begun using this unique material in new and distinctly modern ways, whether for sleek and minimalist bathrooms, industrial bars and restaurants, vintage residential windows, or even experimental urban facades. As Horsley stated, it appears that glamorous glass bricks are booming – again.
The purpose of architectural photography is to show a design in the best possible way, with the artform often characterized by perspective correction and atmospheric lighting. However, few architectural photographers have experimented with other artistic disciplines. Miguel de Guzmán, Paul Vu and Jules Couartou are among those who have challenged the limits of this form of photography, generating an interesting crossover between architecture photography, fashion and performances. In their images, the relationship between space and the user is shown through a scene designed to register an effect on the viewer. The results are images which are full of creativity.