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6 stunning examples of mirrored architecture

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When art and architecture combine

Doug Aitken’s “Mirage,” a mirror-clad, gabled house in California’s Coachella Valley.
Doug Aitken’s “Mirage,” a mirror-clad, gabled house in California’s Coachella Valley.
Photo by Lance Gerber via Designboom

Art-inspired houses can come in all shapes and sizes: orbs floating in the trees, inverted pyramids set in the hills, even mimetic architecture in the shapes of giant oranges or boots. But one of the most stunning styles over the past five years has been the rise of mirrored structures.

Often designed as art installations for high-profile events—we’re looking at you, Design X—mirrored houses reflect the environment around them. They can be set in forests or deserts and made of everything from glass to polished stainless steel, but these buildings stand out wherever they are.

We’ve collected six examples of mirrored architecture, all with a different design and function. Familiar with one we missed? Let us know in the comments.

Mirage in California

Doug Aitken’s Mirage for Desert X
Doug Aitken’s “Mirage” art installation for Desert X.

Created by artist Doug Aitken for the art event Desert X in California’s Coachella Valley, “Mirage” is one of several site-specific installations built in the Valley’s desert. The ranch house was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s residences, and its mirrored sides reflect the craggy and desert topography around it and the nearby San Jacinto Mountains. While the other Desert X installations wrapped up in April, “Mirage” runs until October 31.

Mirrored prefab houses by ÖÖD

mirrored glass prefab
Mirrored prefab homes made by the Estonian company ÖÖD.
Photos via ÖÖD

Reminiscent of Portuguese prefabs inspired by minimalist artists, these mirrored prefab dwellings from Estonian company ÖÖD blend into their surroundings. Each 200-square-foot unit offers a studio layout, with a custom bed, kitchenette, and bathroom. They cost about $36,000.

Lucid Stead in California

This 70-year-old homesteader shack in Joshua Tree, California didn’t always have contrasting mirrored panels. But artist Phillip K. Smith wanted to create a see-through effect in the desert. The remodel also included LED lighting in the mirrored doors and windows that glowed with neon colors at night. The installation is no longer open to the public.

The Broken Mirror House in Austria

Exterior shot of steel-clad building reflecting facades of the buildings next to it.
A steel-clad apartment building in Austria’s sloping roof line matches that of the neighboring buildings.
Photos by Paul Ott via Dezeen

Designed by Austrian studio Hope of Glory, this mirrored apartment building sits on a street in the UNESCO world heritage listed historic city center of Graz, Austria, where the site was the only vacant spot amid a row of contiguous houses from the Whilhelm era. Because it had to meet very stringent historic protection guidelines, the architects designed a simple facade of mirror-finished, high-gloss polished stainless steel that appears to simultaneously "dematerialize" and echo the mid-19th century aesthetic of its neighbors.

The Mirrorcube in Sweden

The Treehotel in Sweden.
Courtesy of Treehotel

Made using an aluminum frame around a tree trunk with walls of reflective glass, the Mirrorcube is a mirrored structure constructed in 2010 by architects Tham & Videgård Bolle. It’s located on Sweden’s Treehotel property, and there’s room for two guests to stay overnight and enjoy the six window’s stunning panoramic view.

The Invisible Portal in Ecuador

The Invisible Portal in Ecuador.
Courtesy of  Natura Futura Arquitectura

Designed in 2016 by Natura Futura Arquitectura, the Invisible Portal is a small mirrored viewing platform for hikers looking for a quick rest stop. The observation deck is located on a trail that runs between Guaranda and Babahoyo in the Andes mountains, and the wooden structure is covered in mirrored panels so that it reflects the valley below.