Invisible architecture continuously challenges our senses making the spaces we know, visit or use, become an experience that brings us new feelings, surprising us when we discover what doesn’t seem to be there.
According to this architectural trend, each architect or architectural studio plays with the elements differently to create a fiction, an illusion of invisibility based on the very reality of objects. Consequently, we are transported to places that only these architects can imagine and that thanks to this trend, they can share with us.
Invisible architecture is based upon complex engineering, which deals with what we cannot see. This trend mimics the environment offering extensive views of the landscape, and merging with the surroundings. The source of inspiration shall determine, for sure, how these designs are built and shall shape how the ingenuity of the architects will be used to meet the expectations of the illusion of invisibility.
Water and Invisible Architecture by Stelios Kois
Stelios Kois was born near Mount Athos in Greece. The reddish landscapes with their mystical monasteries and their interaction of light and shadow and the introduction to painting byzantine icons in his youth, were to have a lasting influence in his later work.
The work of his architectural firm, “Kois Associated Architects” encompasses all fields of design, ranging from urban private buildings, interiors, furniture and all sorts of products.
Nature has inspired Stelios Kois in two of his recent architectural designs, both clear examples of invisible architecture based on the nature and inspired by the natural flow of water.
The first is the “Fountain of Youth”, a project designed for the Kotzia Square in Athens, Greece. The “Fountain of Youth” is a project that follows the architectural trend of invisibility. Instead of designing a static fountain, architects aimed at creating a structure that seems, at first, a mythical venue without a specific definition, much closer to the realm of a dream and imagination than to anything from the earthly world.
Changes in the elevation of the fountain every few minutes will separate it from the soil, and water will rise above 4 meters, revealing a hidden view in its cavity. The peaceful pond will be transformed into a spectacular waterfall and the light passing through the water will do its work. Athens, city of wisdom and truth, is also a land of dreams and fugacity.
This project, closer to the ephemeral than to the terrestrial may reflect the resurgence of the city. It may mirror the resurrection of the dream of elevating the Hellene country where it belongs. We hope that soon it will become a reality.
Project: Fountain of Youth
Architect: Kois Associated Architects
Location: Kotzia square, Athens, Greece
Size: 8673 m2
The visual effect of invisibility inside the Mirage House
There are beach houses, and then there is the Mirage House.When it comes to buildings facing the sea, few rivals are as magnificent as the Mirage House.
This is the second project within the architectural trend of invisibility. It consists of is a magnificent residence of only 198 square meters designed by the team of “Kois Associated Architects”. The house is on top of a rocky and steep hill on the beautiful Greek island of Tinos. The interior was built into the hillside, buried literally inside the landscape. The house has three bedrooms, a spacious kitchen and a large outdoor venue on the front side.
To provide coverage over the section of the outdoor venue, a pool whose waters merge with the wonderful view of the Aegean Sea was built. This ingenious solution aims at providing thermal isolation, as well as protecting its inhabitants from solar radiation.
The team came up with this original idea as a response to an increasing demand from customers seeking privacy and invisibility. The goal was to attain a camouflage effect by mimicking landscape components. “The visual effect of the Reflecting Pool in combination with the concept of invisibility brought to mind the visual phenomenon of a mirage. This is where its name comes from,” Nikos Patsiaouras Project Manager & Architect claims.
Architect: Stelios Kois
Project Manager: Nikos Patsiaouras
Team: Philippi Manolas, Gaby Barbas, Konstantinos Giannakis, Antriana Voutsina
Location: Tinos Island, Greece
Surface: 198 m2
Status: In development
A biblical revelation in The Netherlands
Another invisible architectural work is “Puente de Moses” or Moses Bridge, which almost inevitably produces a ritual effect on those who see it. It was designed by the architectural firm RO&AD and it embodies the biblical legend of the separation of the water. This bridge connects with Fort Roovere in the West Brabant Water Line, which is a defense line formed by a series of fortresses and cities surrounded by moats with water built in the XVII century, in order to protect the country from French and Spanish invasions. Over time, the importance of regenerating and rebuilding the site was acknowledged and the water line was recovered. However, before any of that could be achieved, the building of a bridge giving access to the moat of Fort Roovere was considered essential.
What the architectural firm RO & AD was proposed to do, was to give the bridge a new recreational use, as the place is surrounded by numerous hiking and cycling paths. “It was completely inappropriate to build a bridge across the moat, especially on the side of the fortress where one would expect the enemy to show up. For that reason, we decided to build an invisible bridge”, the architects explained. They also noted that the place had to stay true to its original structure despite the transformation.
The location of the invisible bridge is perfect for its full integration into the landscape. Its original design under the water line generates a unique optical effect: the distance is not seen and the bridge blends into the landscape in a very natural way. With this design, architects mastered the art of creating the illusion of invisibility. The watercourse does not seem to be interrupted and walkers can enjoy the feeling of crossing the water and being part of ir without even getting a finger wet. Although it seems an illusion, it generates an interaction with the environment that is absolutely real and fantastic, thanks to its architectural design and integration that generates an invisibility sensation. For its construction, architects used waterproofed wood with an EPDM camouflage sheet that merges perfectly with the landscape.
Architects: RO & AD
Photographs: © RO & AD Architects
Merits: Finalist for the Dutch Design Awards 2011
Invisible architecture is one of the most versatile architectural trends in many ways, but its ability to integrate with the environment is one of its most interesting features. It creates fantasy and expectation about what doesn’t seem to be there and suddenly appears to surprise us.