• Deen Gabriel

The Invisible House is a reflective building that mirrors its desert surroundings

The Invisible House is a mirror-clad home designed to look like a New York skyscraper flipped on its side. It is covered in heat-reflective “Solarcool” glass to mirror the surrounding remote desert of its site, located 10 minutes from downtown Joshua Tree, California.

Designed by architect Tomas Osinski and Chris Hanley, the LA-based producer behind American Psycho, the Invisible House is situated on 90 acres. The 5,500-square-foot building, completed in 2019, is made of concrete, steel and tempered glass.

The home has a wall designated for movie screen projections and a catering kitchen. There are four bedrooms and bathrooms separated by white partitions instead of doors to provide views of the desert. The theme of invisibility is reflected in the interior furnishings, such as a bed frame made of glass and and a partially-exposed glass shower.

The building’s sustainability features include an efficient insulation system using a combination of closed cell “Cool Roof” foam and a hill-adjacent location protecting it from the sun. There is a solar water heating system, a thermal mass of concrete and a 100-foot-long indoor swimming pool to help regulate the temperature. During construction, large portions of the building were cantilevered to minimize disturbance of the natural grounds. The steel-frame is elevated above the ground onto cylindrical concrete columns.

The designers conducted a biological survey to map out the native flora and fauna before beginning construction, and the Invisible House has a landscape-to-dwelling footprint of 2,000 to one. Low-emissivity glass in the walls and photovoltaic panels on the roof help further reduce the environmental impact of the home. According to the owner of the house, the local birds have been thriving on the insects around the property and have not been harmed by the reflective glass nor have they flown into the building.


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