Volume 29, Issue 3 - Fall 2015

Mirror Mirror, on the Façade . . .
Large Exterior Mirror Helps Italian Luxury Rentals Blend into Surroundings
by Nick St. Denis

n architecture, glass and glazing are renowned for transparency.

The materials also serve multiple functions, such as daylighting and energy performance. But on most occasions, their purpose is simply to let occupants see through them. In other words, “be there, but don’t get in the way.”

One unique application of glazing in Italy follows that mantra, but in a little different fashion.

The newly completed Mirror Houses, a pair of luxury vacation units on a private property just outside the city of Bolzano, utilize large mirror panels on the facades. This allows the buildings to blend into the setting—a landscape of apple orchards surrounded by the Dolomites mountains.

The mirrored glass on the west façade faces the owner’s residence and borders a garden, catching “surrounding panorama with [a nearby] pool while making the units almost invisible,” according to a description from architect Peter Pichler. “In certain views from the client’s garden, the old existing farmhouse is mirrored in the new contemporary architecture and is literally blending into it rather than competing against.”

A pair of luxury vacation units in Italy utilizes large lites of mirror on their façades.

The façade consists of six 4-meter-high mirrored lites of glass, produced by Eckelt and installed by North Italy-based contract glazier Metall Ritten. The fastening system of the mirrored glass is hidden, and Metall Ritten covered the support structures with powder- coated aluminum sheets.

The mirror was laminated with a UV coating to mitigate bird collisions.

A UV coating was applied to address the issue of bird collisions.

More Glass The large mirrored façade isn’t the project’s only glazing. Metall Ritten was also installed doors and windows on the east-facing side of the units.

Large glass windows and doors open up the occupants’ view of the landscape.

Views were extremely important and were accomplished with a glass façade of tall, sliding glass windows by Swiss manufacturer Sky-Frame. The windows face away from the owner’s residence, shielding the other buildings and opening occupants up to the landscape. Schuco aluminum doors were also installed in the project.

The mirrored façade was designed to maximize the experience of nature while preserving privacy.

Meanwhile, the units utilize multiple skylights to ensure natural light and ventilation.

Sustainability and energy efficiency were also a focus of the project. In addition to solar panels that provide hot water, all windows in the structures are triple-glazed.

Why Mirror?

Glass and glazing serve many aesthetic and visual purposes in the Mirror Houses concept.

When the owners approached architect Peter Pichler to design the rentable vacation units, they placed a premium on maximizing the experience of nature as well as the level of privacy.

Because the mirrored façade faces the residence, the reflection of nature in the structure’s surroundings allows the building to blend in.

Meanwhile, large glass applications on the opposite side of the units provide guests the desired view without the owner’s home in sight.


Nick St. Denis
is the editor for Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal. He can be reached at nstdenis@glass.com.

Architects' Guide to Glass & Metal
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