Mirror House by Johan Selbing and Anouk Vogel
camouflages with its surroundings

| 11 comments
 

This house in the Dutch city of Almere by Swedish architect Johan Selbing and Swiss landscape architect Anouk Vogel is completely covered in reflective glass to allow it to blend in with its surroundings (+ slideshow).

Mirror House by Johan Selbing and Anouk Vogel

Selbing and Vogel designed the private house for a plot in an experimental housing development in Almere - a city that was only established in 1976 but now has over 195,000 residents - in response to a competition brief calling for a building that would relate to a site within a forest clearing.

Mirror House by Johan Selbing and Anouk Vogel

The house's simple boxy shape is constructed from an aluminium frame that supports panels of toughened mirrored glass, with a mirrored composite panel running around the top and bottom edges of the facade.

Mirror House by Johan Selbing and Anouk Vogel

"The Mirror House is a private villa with a facade consisting entirely of reflective glass, which acts as a camouflage and an obstruction of the view of its interior," explained the architects.

Mirror House by Johan Selbing and Anouk Vogel

Doors sits flush against the facade and are only noticeable thanks to handles that project from the surface and a change in the ground level that rises to meet the height of the floor inside the building.

Mirror House by Johan Selbing and Anouk Vogel

An entrance at the the side of the building leads into a compact interior with a home office at one end and master and guest bedrooms at the other.

Mirror House by Johan Selbing and Anouk Vogel

Sliding partitions between these rooms and the open-plan kitchen and living space can be opened or closed to meet different requirements.

"Long sight lines in the interior make the house appear larger from the inside, and anchor it to its surroundings," the architects pointed out.

Mirror House by Johan Selbing and Anouk Vogel

Surfaces are covered in pale birch multiplex panels that compliment the light-filled interior and views of the nearby trees.

Built-in storage covers one wall and is punctuated by a secret window that looks onto the street but is invisible from outside.

Site plan of Mirror House by Johan Selbing and Anouk Vogel
Site plan - click for larger image

Selbing and Vogel were one of twelve winning entrants in the design competition. They were invited to construct their building but had to source a client to pay for it.

"In dialogue with the client, the competition proposal was worked out to the smallest detail, taking a demand for optimum accessibility into consideration," the architects added.

Floor plan of Mirror House by Johan Selbing and Anouk Vogel
Floor plan - click for larger image

Photography is by Jeroen Musch.

Here's a project description from the architects:


Mirror House, Almere

The Mirror House is a private villa with a facade consisting entirely of reflective glass, which acts as a camouflage and an obstruction of the view of its interior. The floor plan has been designed to be as compact as possible, with the possibility to adapt to different lifestyles. All interior walls are covered with a birch multiplex panel, whose warm appearance contrasts with the elegant and strict glass facade.

Section of Mirror House by Johan Selbing and Anouk Vogel
Section - click for larger image

After De Realiteit and De Fantasie, the third edition of small experimental housing settlements in Almere has been launched under the title De Eenvoud. The brief of the competition called for an individual house with a strong relation to its surroundings. The twelve winning teams were given the possibility to realise their designs in an open area in the forest of Noorderplassen-West, but had to find the buyers of the houses themselves.

Street facade elevation of Mirror House by Johan Selbing and Anouk Vogel
Street facade elevation - click for larger image

The Mirror House is a private villa with a facade consisting entirely of reflective glass, which acts as a camouflage and an obstruction of the view of its interior. The floor plan has been designed to be as compact as possible, with the possibility to adapt to different lifestyles. In dialogue with the client, the competition proposal was worked out to the smallest detail, taking a demand for optimum accessibility into consideration.

Entrance facade elevation of Mirror House by Johan Selbing and Anouk Vogel
Entrance facade elevation - click for larger image

The original concept with a slightly raised floor (for a better view), sliding doors, built-in cupboards and a single-level layout, has therefore been further refined. Long sight lines in the interior make the house appear larger from the inside, and anchor it to its surroundings. All interior walls are covered with a birch multiplex panel, whose warm appearance contrasts with the elegant and strict glass facade.

Garden facade elevation of Mirror House by Johan Selbing and Anouk Vogel
Garden facade elevation - click for larger image

Location: De Eenvoud, Almere, The Netherlands
Client: Private
Project team: Johan Selbing, Anouk Vogel
Size: 120 m2
Program: Private house
Process: competition 2006
Start construction: 2012
Completion: 2013
Structural Engineering: Buro voor Bouwadvies BV, Dalfsen
Installation Advice: Earth Energie Advies BV, Boskoop
Contractors: Bouwbedrijf Jadi BV, Genemuiden Slump Fictorie, Hoogeveen (facade)

  • marian

    Funny how the architects name is Vogel, which is German for ‘bird’. This house is going to kill not only one of them.

    • Matt

      That’s exactly what I was thinking. There seems to be a bit of a trend on Dezeen for these reflective houses that ‘blend in’ with their surroundings (presumably until all the other houses are also reflective.). However, these kinds of surfaces are a death machine for birds. It’s estimated that a billion birds that die each year in the US due to flying into glass clad buildings.

      Luckily the chicken in the photo is a flightless bird. :)

  • Paul

    I absolutely agree with Marian, this is an absolute bird killer. Depressing to see.

  • rjl

    Shortly after the picture was taken, the rooster died from impact with its likeness.

  • Johan Selbing

    Bear in mind that these photos were taken shortly after the project was finished. The site will eventually be more densely planted and the house will be less exposed. In the meantime we’re looking into several options of how to warn birds, for example with invisible stickers, fake crows, sounds or flashing lights.

  • Johan Selbing

    Eight billion chickens are consumed each year in the US. This is not meant as a justification for the design, but if people were as consistent in their eating habits as in more symbolic issues like this, the meat industry would look very different.

    The rooster is very vain and spends his whole day there.

    • Matt

      40% of bird species in the US are threatened. I don’t think the chicken is one of them.

  • Andreas

    A true bird killer!

    • Alexander Reford

      I would like to add our experience to this discussion. We have exhibited Hal Ingberg’s Coloured Reflections at the International Garden Festival (see http://www.refordgardens.com) since 2003. It is a mirrored glass structure with reflective green-coloured glass panels. Coloured Reflections is installed in a forested environment with a wide range of song birds and partridges.

      Over more than 10 years, we have only had 1 dead bird. And we endured similar public criticism when the installation was first exhibited by those who feared that we had created a bird death station.

      Because it is reflective, the birds intuitively appear to understand that it is an obstacle to be avoided…and it has fortunately had few victims. Clear glass is a much more dangerous material and routinely produces more dead birds who strike the windows in our other buildings.

      Alexander Reford

      Director, International Garden Festival

  • Matt H

    Where are all these negative commentators getting their facts? Not saying they’re wrong but clear glass and reflective glass are obviously two different things. Anyone that has a window knows birds don’t see clear glass easily and it presents a hazard. Is mirrored glass as bad? Presumably it ought actually to be better.