The Mirror Houses

Contemporary, and high class, the “Mirror Houses” are a pair of holiday homes, set in the marvellous surroundings of the South Tyrolean Dolomites, Italy, amidst a beautiful scenery of apple orchards and mountain terrain.

After spending 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 an abundance of space. They opted to convert part of their property for rent. As a result, they created two apartments in their existing house (where they still live) and a pair of mini-residences in a new building, catering to tourists who make a beeline to the scenic mountains of South Tyrol. Though the couple had no particular goal that architecture should itself be an attraction, recalls Ebner, they wanted ‘something special’. They called in world-class architect Peter Pichler, who had recently established his own office in Bolzano after working for Zaha Hadid. It’s here the impeccable mirror houses were born.

The mirror houses provide a unique opportunity to spend a memorable holiday surrounded by the contemporary architecture of the highest standards, and the most breath-taking landscape and beauty nature can offer. Guests have their small individual apartment and can thoroughly enjoy the experience of living in the middle of nature. A maximum level of privacy for both the client and the residing guest has been taken into consideration throughout Pichler’s design.

The modern structure is oriented towards the east with a private garden, a separate entrance and parking is available for all guests. Each unit bears a kitchen/living room as well as a bathroom and a bedroom with big skylights that open to allow plenty of natural light and ventilation. A small basement serves for temporary storage.

The projects initial volume is divided into 2 units that are slightly shifted in height and length to loosen the entire structure and articulate each unit. Both units are floating on a base above the ground evoking lightness besides offering fantastic views from their cantilevering terraces to the impressive surrounding landscape. The volume opens out towards the east with a large glass facade that fades with curvilinear lines into the black aluminium shell.

The 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. Animals lovers fear not -the mirrored glass is laminated with a UV coating preventing birds from colliding.

From certain viewpoints within the clients garden, the old existing farmhouse is mirrored in the new contemporary architecture and is literally blending into it, rather than competing against one another. This merges the buildings harmoniously.

Project: Mirror Houses, Bolzano, Italy
Architecture: Peter Pichler Architecture
Status: Built
Type: Residential units
Client: Angela Sabine Staffler
Photography: Oskar Da Riz, Nicolò Degiorgis