360 Architecture’s Invisible Fort in Kansas City

Midwest
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
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(Courtesy 360 Architecture)

(Courtesy 360 Architecture)

A giant Tetris block has landed in Powell Gardens, a large botanical garden an hour drive outside of Kansas City, Missouri. MIRRORRORRIM, designed and built by Kansas City-based firm 360 Architecture, is a modular stacking of bright, lime green, cedar cubes, forming a T-shape on the ground with a vertical tower rising above the crossing point. The wooden structure is layered over on some sides with perforated stainless steel panels.

The cedar structure supports the mirrored panels as well as constructing an "interior" for the fort.

The cedar structure supports the mirrored panels as well as constructing an "interior" for the fort. All images courtesy of 360 Architecture.

A view of the periscope from inside the structure.

A view of the periscope from inside the structure.

MIRRORRORRIM is one of several structures in the Fairy Houses and Forts exhibition at Powell Gardens. Following a competition open to architecture firms in the Kansas City area, the winning designs were built for the garden and will be on display through October 7th. As the title of the exhibition suggests, walls of mirrors coating a wooden frame is not just sculpture, it is a playground designed for exploration.

Unlike other structures in the exhibit, which have names like Fairy Outpost 8 and Skeleton Island, 360 Architecture took a slightly different approach to a fort, discarding any pirate theme to instead focus on the ability of mirrors to create hidden spaces. The tunnel created by the wooden cubes has a plank floor for those comfortable crawling through the four-foot-high cubes. The vertical element serves as a periscope, using a mirror installed in the highest cube to give those at the bottom of the structure a view from 16 feet off the ground. Perforations in the mirrors serve as peepholes for those hiding inside.

Set in a grass field and surrounded by clumps of trees, MIRRORRORRIM blends into its surroundings—the mirrors reflect a green landscape almost indistinguishable from the vistas behind—playing with the observer’s perception of landscape. Different elements of the structure—variation in mirrored planes and perforations—together play on the idea of permeability; the structure itself is both a direct and indirect image of the surrounding landscape.

Holes in the mirrors allow for the fort's occupants to see out.

Holes in the mirrors allow for the fort's occupants to see out.

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