8 houses that disappear into their surroundings

Mirror houses are the new tiny houses

TRD New York /
Aug.August 15, 2015 10:00 AM

Like tiny houses before them, mirror houses are the latest architecture trend to make design blogs swoon. And although mirror-encased homes have mainly been cropping up in Europe, over the last few years, U.S. design minds are taking notice.

These reflective homes capture the stunning (and often secluded) environments that surround them, creating structures that seamlessly blend into nature. Most of the mirrors are built with UV-reflective glass — a pattern that is nearly invisible to humans but visible to birds — to help ensure safety to the natural environments in which they stand.

Keep scrolling to see the breathtaking illusion these homes create as they disappear into forests, deserts, and snow-covered expanses.


1. Designed by architect Peter Pichler, these two mirror houses sit side-by-side in the South Tyrolean Dolomites, just outside the city of Bolzano, Italy. The homes were designed as vacation rentals and are available for booking. Pichler’s homes are surfaced with a mirrored exterior laminated in UV coating, which helps prevent bird collisions. Pictured here is the back facade of the homes, which beautifully reflect the surrounding Dolomites mountain range.


2. This design by architects Bolle Tham and Martin Videgård combines two housing trends in one. Called “The Mirrorcube,” the reflective treehouse is part of the extremely chic Treehotel in Harads, Sweden. One of Treehotel’s seven unique bungalows, The Mirrorcube is accessible by a 40-foot rope bridge. The getaway is very secluded, with the nearest house over 1,600 feet away. However, hotel owners Britta and Kent Lidvall are in the area to provide guests with a traditional Swedish breakfast as part of their stay.


3. In Joshua Tree, California, Phillip K. Smith III of Royale Projects Contemporary Art created this mirage-like art installation, called “Lucid Stead,” by adding mirrors to the exterior of a 70-year-old wooden shack. Doors and windows use colorful LED lighting to illuminate as dusk falls. For Smith, the project was about tapping into the quiet of the desert and its changing nature.


4. Architect Johan Selbing wanted to build a mirror home from the second he laid eyes on the stunning Almere woodlands of the Netherlands. The facade of the resulting private villa is made completely of reflective glass. At approximately $390,000 ($1,800 per square foot), the home took about one year to build. Though the triple-glazed glass — which helps resist cracks — is costly, Selbing says it has its maintenance advantages. For instance, you’ll never have to repaint it.


5. Called “Green Orchard,” this 656-square-foot home sits in the landscaped gardens of England’s South Gloucestershire area. Architect Paul Archer designed the four-bedroom house with views of the Severn Estuary for his mother and her husband. The house was constructed with the specific goal of keeping it carbon neutral: a wood-burning stove is the only heat source and the roof’s thermal solar panels warms over 80% of the home’s water.


6. Created for a couple in Amsterdam by the architects of CC-Studio, this “Garden Studio” is meant to showcase a rare real estate find in the Dutch city — a wide garden. To give a sense of uninterrupted flow and depth, the home was designed without any vertical surfaces that fall parallel to the house.


7. Located in Slovenia, and known as “Casa Invisible,” these two mirror home prototypes were designed by Delugan Meissl Associated Architects. Currently in use by the architects, they’re transportable and can sit anywhere with water and electricity sources. As their name suggests, the homes were built to completely disappear into their surroundings. The success of that aim is best observed at night.


8. We end our mirror house tour in the Fox Chapel suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where this mosaic-style mirror house, which belongs to an artist, has become a five-star-rated Airbnb sensation. Inside the eclectic home, the mirror theme continues. With a home theater and a gorgeous backyard and porch area, the current Airbnb rate for the home is $165 per night.

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