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Mirror Houses

The Mirror Houses are a pair of holiday homes, set in the marvellous surroundings of the South Tyrolean Dolomites, amidst a beautiful scenery of appletrees, just outside the city of Bolzano. They were designed by architect Peter Pichler. After 30 years in their farmhouse outside Bolzano, in northern Italy, and with their children grown up, Josef Ebner and Angela Sabine Staffler found themselves with surplus space and decided to convert part of the property for rent.

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© Oskar Da Riz

When designing buildings that are completely surrounded by nature, an architect must show a large amount of humility. It’s difficult to rival the force of nature shaping the landscape. In such a case, the most interesting architectural forms usually arise through a search for symbiosis between what’s human and what’s natural. “Mountain architecture” often refers respectfully to its surroundings through both form and material, drawing inspiration from them.

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© Oskar Da Riz

In South Tyrol, in the Dolomites, not far from the town of Bolzano, two exceptional summer houses have been built. The investor, who lives in a house on the same piece of land, wished to create a place which would attract guests with the quality of its architecture, tasteful interior design, and harmonious coexistence with the amazing mountain landscape.

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© Oskar Da Riz

Architects from the Peter Pichler architecture firm began with the premise that the environment in which they were meant to design the buildings is so beautiful that they shouldn’t disrupt it with any excessively invasive architecture. An important aspect was also to ensure comfort and sufficient privacy for those renting the houses, as well as for the owner living nearby. This is why the buildings are “open” towards the east with wide windows and terraces, and from the west, where the garden is located belonging to the owner of the houses, a special kind of mirrored, laminated glass was used on the facade which has a UV layer that is visible to birds and prevents them from hitting the walls.

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© Nicolò Degiorgis

Design Features:

  • The aluminum facade is enclosed by custom curved cutted glass on one side and by reflective translucent glass panels acting as curtain wall facade on the other. The entire aluminum facade is glued to his sub-structure and no screws are visible.
  • With a big glass facade that fades with curvilinear lines into the black aluminum shell. Mirrored glass on the west facade borders the garden of the client with the units and catches the surrounding panorama while making the units almost invisible.
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© Nicolò Degiorgis

  • The modern structures appear to be floating on a base above the ground and have been slightly staggered in height and alignment to visually separate the two units. On the eastern side, the homes open up with floor-to-ceiling windows that curve and fade into the black aluminium sidewalls.
  • Combined living and dining spaces are positioned directly behind the glass, leading out onto small terraces, which are sheltered by cantilevered roof canopies. A bedroom and bathroom sit behind the living room of each unit, illuminated by skylights, and temporary storage areas are provided by small basements.
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© Nicolò Degiorgis

Peter Pichler Architecture:

The Mirror houses offer a unique chance to spend a beautiful vacation surrounded by contemporary architecture of the highest standards and the most astonishing Landscape and beauty nature has to offer. The site of the project is located in the midst of apple orchards close to Bolzano, north Italy, and is surrounded by the spectacular mountains of the dolomites.

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© Oskar Da Riz

The client, who lives in a farmhouse of the 60s on the site, asked us to design a structure for renting out as a luxury holiday units, so guests have their small autonomous apartment and can fully enjoy the experience to live in the middle of nature. A maximum degree of privacy for both the client and the residing guest should be taken into consideration.

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© Oskar Da Riz

The new structure is oriented towards east with their private garden and an autonomous access and parking for their guests. Each unit contains a kitchen / living room as well as a bath- and bedroom with big openable skylights to allow natural light and ventilation. A small basement serves for temporary storage.

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© Oskar Da Riz

The projects initial volume is split in 2 units that are slightly shifted in height and length in order to loosening the entire structure and articulating their differentiation.

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© Oskar Da Riz

Both units are floating on a base above the ground evoking lightness beside offering better views from their cantilevering terraces to the impressive surrounding landscape. The volume opens towards east with a big glass facade that fades with curvilinear lines into the black aluminum shell. Mirrored glass on the west facade borders the garden of the client with the units and catches the surrounding panorama with pool while making the units almost invisible.

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© Nicolò Degiorgis

In certain views from the clients garden the old existing farmhouse is mirrored in the new contemporary architecture and is literally blending into it rather then competing against.

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© Oskar Da Riz

Project Data:

Project name: Mirror Houses
Location: via Agruzzo 75, 39100 Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy
Coordinates: 46.462417, 11.312671
Type:

  • Type By Characteristic: Holiday House, Farm House
  • Type By Site: Countryside / Suburb House
  • Type By Size: Small House – (51 sqm – 200 sqm)
  • Type By Materials: Glass House

Project Area: approx 120 sqm
Status: Built
Completion Date/Year: 2014
Visit Mirror Houses’s website: here

Awards:

  • 2015 – Architectural Record Awards – Top 10 Houses of 2015 – No.5 place

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Josef Ebner and Angela Sabine Staffler
Architects: Peter Pichler Architecture – Corso San Gottardo 22, 20136 Milan, Italy
Text Description: © Courtesy of Peter Pichler Architecture, mirror-houses.com
Images: © Peter Pichler Architecture, Oskar Da Riz, Nicolò Degiorgis

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Mirror Houses / Peter Pichler Architecture
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