Doug Aitken installs mirrored house in historic Detroit building
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Mirage Detroit by Doug Aitken

Doug Aitken installs mirrored house in historic Detroit building

American artist Doug Aitken has created a house-shaped pavilion clad entirely in mirrors inside a former bank in Detroit, Michigan.

The site-specific Mirage Detroit installation is housed within the city's State Savings Bank, which was built in 1900, and purchased by businessman Dan Gilbert in 2014 after being abandoned for decades.

Mirage Detroit by Doug Aitken

Aitken's project enables some of the first public access to the space, which boasts white marble walls and ornate details that serve as an impressive backdrop for his highly reflective design.

The installation is located inside a grand room that spans almost an entire city block. The mirrored pavilion resembles a one-storey house, with an L-shaped plan and gabled ends. A chimney-like element rises from the roof at the centre of the longer wing.

"Mirage Detroit is a sculpture in the form of an American suburban house," said a statement about the project. "It is a space that draws in and reflects everything that surrounds it, including the architecture of this archaic bank building."

Every surface of the house design is mirrored, inside and out, creating a highly optical effect within the marble room.

Mirage Detroit by Doug Aitken

The shiny structure is positioned in the centre of the room, with the historic doors and high ceilings reflected on its surfaces facade. River rocks cover the full floor area around the installation.

"The contrast is extreme, with reflections of the aged architectural details juxtaposed with the marble floor returned to a raw state covered in earth and stones," the statement said.

Mirage Detroit by Doug Aitken

Visitors can venture inside the house, walking on plywood pathways, and also wander around the perimeter.

The bank building's massive arched windows are covered up so that hardly any natural light enters the room. This creates a very intimate atmosphere, which is exaggerated by an artificial lighting scheme designed by Andi Watson.

Mirage Detroit by Doug Aitken

"Lighting is a carefully considered element within the space," said a project description. "The lights will gradually shift sequentially along the architecture of the building."

Open until February 2019, Mirage Detroit is the latest of Aitken's mirrored house-like installations, following a cabin he created in the desert near Palm Springs in 2017.

Mirage Detroit by Doug Aitken

This project was produced by Detroit-based art gallery Library Street Collective, and supported by Bedrock and the Quicken Loans Community Fund.

The same group is also behind the reinvigoration of an old skybridge in the city, which artist Phillip K Smith III has illuminated with patterns of coloured lights.

Photography is by Doug Aitken Workshop.