Distorting mirrors frame a secret garden in Santiago's Parque Araucano

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Distorting mirrors frame a secret garden in Santiago's Parque Araucano

Chilean architects Guillermo Hevia García and Nicolás Urzúa have created a concealed garden fenced in by distorting mirrors for the Santiago edition of MoMA's Young Architects Program (+ movie).

Named Your Reflection, the installation invites visitors to the city's Parque Araucano to step into an enclosure where they will discover infinite reflections of grassy hillocks, shallow pools of water and wild flowers.

Inside, the immediate surroundings are completely concealed to them – apart from high-rise buildings and overhead tree branches – and they are likely to encounter someone playing a piano, or other kinds of musical performers.

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Guillermo Hevia García and Nicolás Urzúa were selected from a shortlist of five teams to create the installation for the 2015 edition of YAP Constructo, one of the four international offshoots of the MoMA Young Architects Program (YAP) contest.

Their aim was to create a sanctuary dedicated entirely to leisure, but that also encourages occupants to daydream.

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"A way to measure a good city is the amount of activities and free-access quality spaces it offers to its inhabitants," explained the duo, who are both based in the Chilean capital.

"In that sense, the activities and projects intended for leisure are a good scale for measuring these aspects," they added. "So while we could say that the project does not directly attack an urgent urban agenda, we should not dismiss the importance of leisure."

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Now in place, the structure is formed of just three planes of 3.2-metre-high mirrored aluminium, which have been shaped to create concave and convex curves, both large and small. This result is an effect not dissimilar to a hall of mirrors.

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"We have multiplied the amount of reflecting and deformation situations in order to produce an interaction belonging to a world of illusions, more surreal than real," continued the duo.

"We want the visitor to be expectant of what is going to surprise them in the next place."

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Different areas of landscape are framed by the various curved forms, with some more private than others. Water also runs through the space between two pools, to offer visitors an opportunity to cool down.

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The two architects are keen for it to be replicated in other locations, to highlight different types of urban and rural landscape.

"In the end, we do not intend on building a closed proposal, but rather articulating a universe of sensations and experiences open to many interpretations,"  they added.

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Now in its 17th year, YAP was initially established at the MoMA PS1 gallery in Queens, New York, to promote emerging architects and designers, giving them an opportunity to build a major public structure.

Successful installations so far include HWKN's blue spiky air-cleaning sculpture and The Living's towers built from corn stalks and mushroom bricks, as well as last year's water filtration plant by Andrés Jaque.

YAP has been running in Chile since 2010, with past editions including a steel-framed structure that outlined artworks, seating and small trees. It also now takes place in Istanbul, Rome and Seoul.

Photography is by Cristobal Palma.


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Project credits:

Architects: 
Guillermo Hevia García, Nicolás Urzúa
Collaborators: Felipe Droppelmann, Cristian Fuhrhop, Cristóbal Montalbetti, Diego Rivera
Client: Parque Araucano, Santiago, Chile
Structural engineering: Hunter Douglas Chile
Construction: Hunter Douglas Chile