It’s a classic trick from the toolbox of the product designer: rather than spend time modeling an entire product in the prototyping phase, model half of it, and attach it to a piece of mirror. The resulting optical illusion gives an impression of the entire object, with half the work.
The problem in this case wasn’t workload, though, but the extensive restrictions against altering the 19th century buildings No Picnic purchased for their new headquarters. A split-level walkway, built in the ’80s, divided the beautiful, gabled space (once an exercise hall for the Danish army) in two.
Ironically, they were unable to remove the offending alteration because of more recent legislation protecting the space – they write that “conversion had to be sensitive, and we have evaluated every step with an antiquarian, literally down to each new screw hole.” So, instead of tearing out the pre-existing alternations, a wall of mirrors mimic the experience of the original space.
This is great example of a case in which a challenge or problems spurs a more interesting design than a “perfect” site or situation would. The wall of mirrors seems almost like a crystal laminate on the classic Swedish construction.
More from the architects:
“We wanted to get rid of all added layers down to the origin. In the old stable we were able to peel the room naked, and just add a custom designed acoustical treatment along the walls, but in the exercise hall, economy and function demanded that a mezzanine constructed there in the 1980’s, was kept. The mezzanine cut the hall lengthwise, and crippled the experience of the space in an unfortunate way. Its edge coincided with the center of the hall, so we opted for the industrial designer’s own method – the way arbitrary but symmetric shapes can be sculpted as half models onto a mirror, we could restore the impression of the entire exercise hall by constructing a delicate aluminum wall along its central axis.
The meeting rooms inside this metal membrane, has large window panes towards the hall. The flat reflection of the glass appearing flush with the distorting metal surface, makes the glass seem like a mirror while the metal appears transparent; the wall is there, yet it disappears. It is bold, kaleidoscopic and delusive with its trompe l’oeil effects. At the same time it takes a step back for the main act: the light and space of the exercise hall, and the old building’s straightforward display of material, construction, imperfections, and time that has passed.”