Ashleigh Clarke Architects

Mirrors in Architecture: The possibilities of reflective space


Posted: September, 2020

Author: AC Architects

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Tips for designing with mirrors

A mirror can bring many functional purposes in an architectural setting, depending on the size, shape and placement. Architects will need to consider the specifics of their own project as the foremost design motivator. An architect should experiment or innovate on how to design with mirrors. One of the most commonly cited uses of designing with mirrors is to open up a space. A large mirror can help make a smaller room look much bigger, particularly if the mirror encompasses the entire wall, or even if it is shaped like a window to create the illusion of openness. The architect will need to consider the lighting, mirrors should be placed in areas where they can best reflect natural light coming from a window.

Mirrors don’t have to reflect bright areas or windows, they can also be used to accentuate the architecture by reflecting interesting angles or spaces. For a more artistic effect, architects can use lights and shapes to create statement mirrors that dominate and beautify a space. Architects can also design with mirrors by combining aesthetics and functionality. A common example would be to add statement LED lighting to bathroom mirrors. LED lights are not only eye catching they also have the practical function of illuminating users’ faces allowing daily skincare to be done with more precision. Likewise large mirrors on items such as wardrobes and closets can also open up space and reflect light into a room.

Mirrors in Architecture

Going back to ancient times, most mirrors were maximum of eight inches in diameter, and only used primarily for decoration. Much later around the 17th century, Louis Le Vau designed the famous “Hall Of Mirrors” which carried around 357 mirrors, each one was very rare and expensive. The mirrors were also used to reflect the expansive gardens outside. Enclosed in elaborate frames decorated with a floral pattern or classical ornaments were for decoration, although later the invention of the cheval glass, and also full length mirror became much more fashionable. Around this time, french circular mirrors were also extremely popular then, and to this day still are.

Looking now at the modern era, there is more innovation in the way mirrors interact with architecture. Paired with LED lights and minimalist surroundings, functional bathroom mirrors and decorative sets now feel clean and modern in comparison to their elaborate neoclassical predecessors. Architects and designers now have the means to experiment with unconventional shapes, and the strength to improve the way we use mirrors to make a reflective space. Architects will consider recommendations for how to incorporate mirrors into their work project.

The possibilities for designing with mirrors are endless, and contemporary architects have the opportunity to experiment more as new developments in technology continue to step forward each day. Whether they serve a simple existing structure or to dominate a new design, all mirrors are versatile and have so much potential to change a room. Mirrors in architecture bring so many eye-grabbing elements that can elevate architecture to a whole new level of exciting opportunities.

Mirrors can be used as a ‘invisible cloak” in kitchens they can be designed to make an exciting visual space or even storage designed on large sliding doors. Mirrors can hide things such as cupboards especially designed on an island unit, which will then extend the space beyond the kitchen. Mirrors can also reinforce a style and enhance many architectural features of space and complement a design.

Garden’s are absolutely beautiful designed with mirrors, especially small porthole ones hidden in an overgrown flower bed. This can be very effective and can create a vision of curiosity and interest. Garden mirrors also have the opportunity to bring in more light and capture picturesque moments.

Many mirrors can add opulence, many of them have been used for their reflective qualities, however, they are no longer limited to the traditional silver colour. Modern technology have allowed for mirrors to be manufactured in various tones and also finishes such as silver, grey, bronze and black antique elegant finishes.

Mirrors play a functional role serving a clean, modern look. Making small spaces into another world, that is the beauty of architecture and design!

Author: AC Architects

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