Through the Looking Glass: 5 Buildings that Blend into the Environment

Sydney Franklin Sydney Franklin

Can invisible be innovative? Sometimes architecture that is thoroughly integrated into its environment is the most impressive to view. Launched earlier this week, Marc Kushner’s book The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings features 100 different structures that push the boundaries of design. We previously saw how some of these projects represent a transformation from gross to great, as well as how amazing architecture can be fleeting. Here are five projects with phenomenal façades that magically fade into the landscape or strategically blend into the milieu.

© Iwan Baan

© Iwan Baan

Photo by Iwan Baan

Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art by SANAA

The 2006 addition to the Toledo Museum of Art is a building for glass, made of glass. Housing one of the world’s largest glass collections, this 74,000-square-foot structure consists of curved glass panels that blur the lines between the interior and exterior spaces.

Trevox Apartments by CRAFT Arquitectos

This 40-year-old villa in Naucalpan, Mexico, was morphed into a six-apartment complex with a special reflective shell that stands in front of the existing structure. The highly reflective bronze-glass protects the building from the sun and aesthetically absorbs the surrounding landscape onto the shiny material. This project is both environmentally friendly and veiled in beauty.

Parasite Office by ZA BOR Architects

This tiny elevated office in Moscow is wedged between two larger buildings, allowing traffic to pass underneath. The contemporary building appears elegantly fused onto the brick and concrete structures beside it. At night, the office casts a yellow hue providing light to the makeshift alley beneath it.

Tree Hotel by Tham & Videgård Arkitekter

This 4-meter cube is actually an unconventional hotel suspended midway up a tree trunk in Harads, Sweden. Just big enough for two people, the tiny structure gives off an essence of pure seclusion and stillness, the windows providing a 360° view of the outside world. The mirrored glass exterior is made of lightweight aluminum that reflects the sky and trees around the hotel. But don’t worry, birds won’t unknowingly crash into the invisible building, thanks to the transparent ultraviolet coating on the structure’s skin.

Tverrfjelhytta – Norwegian Wild Reindeer Pavilion by Snøhetta

This public building overlooking the Dovrefjell mountain range in central Norway serves as an observation pavilion where hikers can watch the local reindeer population. The rectangular frame of raw steel holds large panels of reflective glass that mirror the rocky landscape, while the curvy wooden interior mimics the colors and textures of the outside world.

3-D printed lunar habitations by Foster + Partners

This concept is an example of architecture that protects its inhabitants from the elements — even elements that are otherworldly like lunar temperature swings and meteorites. These 3-D printed inflatables domes will be covered in a protective shell bound together by moon dust. The shape and make up of the modules provide an ethereal aesthetic spread inconspicuously across the moon’s surface.

Get your hands on a copy of The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings here.

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