Recall the tree house you dreamed of as a child—or perhaps were lucky enough to own—but swap out the plywood walls for mirrored glass and your backyard for the Arctic Circle. This figment of your imagination is actually a real-life structure called The Mirrorcube, nestled among the treetops near the small village of Harads in the far north of Sweden. It’s one of six two-person “hotel rooms” that make up the Treehotel, a collection of outposts for eco-tourists between the small settlements along the Lule River and the vast wilderness of the north.
Designed by Bolle Tham and Martin Videgård, co-founders and chief architects of Tham & Videgård Arkitekter in Stockholm, Sweden, The Mirrorcube reflects the natural environment surrounding it without marring it. For example, the lightweight aluminum structure is mounted directly on the tree trunk of a tall pine with clamps that do not perforate the trunk. It was built by local craftsmen who combined native know-how and natural resources with a new vision of how living among the trees could be taken to another level.
The roughly 13-by-13-by-13 foot cube is clad in highly reflective glass, creating a 360-degree view that changes based on weather, light conditions and time of year. To prevent birds from colliding with the glass, a transparent ultraviolet color visible only to birds is laminated into the glass panes. A hidden roof terrace provides a secluded space for rest in the middle of nature.
Tham and Videgård were also interested in the paradox that while humans search for authentic experiences among nature that heighten the sense of being alive, at the same time we bring protection in the form of high-tech gear, such as Gore-Tex clothing and Kevlar tents. So they incorporated these materials into the design of the Mirrorcube. “So the idea of the Mirrorcube is in part reflecting this paradox of being at the same time an abstract object standing out from its wild surroundings, but also through the effect of mirrors completely blending in, almost disappearing like a mirage among the trees,” Tham says.
The demand for this camouflaged refuge among the trees is high. It has attracted visitors from around the world who come to trek through the wilderness with the Treehotel as a start or end stop, or just to relax for a few days away from the buzz of modern life.
This article was written by Sarah Whitman and originally published in Issue 07 of the Mohawk Maker Quarterly. The Mohawk Maker Quarterly is a vehicle to support a community of like-minded makers. Content focuses on stories of small manufacturers, artisans, printers, designers, and artists who are making their way in the midst of the digital revolution. Learn more about the quarterly here and sign up to receive future printed issues.