When artist Phillip K Smith designed this amazing installation in the middle of the Joshua Tree desert in California, he created an incredible illusion. By replacing strips of the old timber cladding with long strips of mirror, he transformed a neglected shack into a structure that appears barely to be there!
Phillip named this piece of art: Lucid Stead, and in his Project Statement described the piece as “tapping into the quiet and the pace of change in the desert.”
By replacing every other board with horizontal mirrors, the shack begins to reflect it’s surrounding and as a result it appears invisible in places.
Phillip stated “with Lucid Stead, the movement of the sun reflects banded reflections of light across the desert landscape, while various cracks and openings reveal themselves within the structure. Even the shifting shadow of the entire structure on the desert floor is as present as the massing of the shack itself, within the raw canvas of the desert.”
Although Lucid Shack was created as an art installation, what it highlights from an architectural point of view is that in order to ground a building within it’s context does not always mean using materials from the surroundings. In this case, the mirrored glass, an alien material for the desert, gives the building a better rooting in the context than the weathered wood. Blending with the surroundings can be achieved by reflecting it. This mixed material palette proves that a combination of natural and man-made materials is very effective and achieves a visual high impact.
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