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Tham & Videgard

Naturalist Project Issue #8

text  •  John Mascaro     portrait  •  Elisabeth Toll 

Your feet thump the floor of the forest, pine needles crackle as you step, and rays of light penetrate through fluttering leaves high above your head in a remote forest just south of the arctic circle in Sweden.  You’re outside the town of Harads, cool wind brushes your face and you look up to notice something of a mirage, a visual anomaly reports to your view.  As you approach, the geometry of a mirrored cube suspended high above from the trunk of a tree becomes apparent, and this is the hotel room in which you’ll be staying.

I first noticed images of the Mirrorcube, by the Swedish architecture team Tham & Videgård a few years ago when running my own architecture studio in Paris and remember stopping on the pictures within the magazine, reflecting on my childhood memories of constructing crude tree forts in the woods around the home I grew up in, and intuitively thinking that these guys nailed it, created something rather magical, and I was a little jealous.  So when I was contacted about writing this article I happily agreed to do so.  

The Mirrorcube, a 4x4x4 meter hotel room clad in mirrored glass reflects the surrounding nature, rendering the structure itself visually embedded within its surroundings.  The interior, of minimal design was fabricated from locally grown and produced birch and plywood, while the entirety of the room was constructed by local builders and craftsmen.  

I had the fortune of interviewing Martin Videgård and Bolle Tham, two men clearly aware of the need to design with a certain humility, with attention to site specificity - refreshing within the context of contemporary architecture which in recent decades has been driven more by the abilities afforded architectural design via 3D modeling, computation, and the myriad of fabrication methods emergent from such tech-driven advances.  

With these new tools architects have been making a kind of abstract expressionist architecture, indulgent, echoing old science fiction imagery to invent a derivative skyline rather than creating new and relevant experiences for people to inhabit..

Tham & Videgård’s Mirrorcube project eschews the form driven exhibitionism of starcitecture, and by creating a project which virtually disappears, weaves itself into the fabric of the surrounding nature, the team has afforded their studio a good many deserved accolades.  (READ FULL INTERVIEW HERE)