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Mirrors in Architecture: Possibilities of Reflected Space

Mirror Garden / ARCHSTUDIO. Image © Ning Wang
Mirror Garden / ARCHSTUDIO. Image © Ning Wang

KAP-House / ONG&ONG Pte Ltd. Image © Derek Swalwell Si estas paredes hablasen / Serrano + Baquero Arquitectos. Image © Fernando Alda PH José Mármol / Estudio Yama. Image © Javier Agustin Rojas The Mirror Window / Kosaku Matsumoto. Image © Nobutada Omote + 39

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.

No-Boundary Toilet / ZHUBO-AAO

Exterior night. Image © Chao Zhang
Exterior night. Image © Chao Zhang

Entrance. Image © Chao Zhang Exterior. Image © Chao Zhang Compartment . Image © Chao Zhang Compartment Interior . Image © John Siu + 28

Shenzhen, China
  • Architects: ZHUBO DESIGN
  • Area Area of this architecture project Area:  30
  • Year Completion year of this architecture project Year:  2018

On Cottesloe Beach, Gjøde & Partnere Arkitekter Create a Floating Desert Island for Sculpture By The Sea

On The Desert Island in Cottesloe Beach, Australia, a 72-meter wall of mirrors partitions out a section of the sand, creating a cove of its own. The wall faces the Indian Ocean, and the curved reflection of sand merging with the soft-blue waters and the horizon beyond creates an illusion of an enclosed space; a desert island floating in an endless sea.

Conceived of by the Danish architecture studio Gjøde & Partnere Arkitekter, the installation was part of the annual Sculpture By The Sea exhibition in Australia last month. It is the largest free public sculpture exhibition in the world, and anyone can submit their ideas. As beachgoers stumbled upon this panorama of the shore upon sand, they danced, took photos, and watched the sunset from the wavering reflections of the mythical island.

© David Dare Parker © Richard Watson © Richard Watson © Gjøde & Partnere Arkitekter + 15