BUFFALO, N.Y. — Festival tents are typically dull, with
plain white canopies that do little to reflect the playful emotions
such events are meant to evoke.
So to put a twist on these humdrum shelters, University at
Buffalo architecture faculty members Stephanie Davidson and Georg
Rafailidis designed MirrorMirror, an easily transportable temporary
outdoor structure that holds surprises for anyone who walks by or
The project’s main attraction is a 45-degree-angled gable
roof made from sheets of Mylar foil, which are stretched over
foam-and-aluminum frames to form glassless, double-sided
The effect is surreal.
Fairgoers underneath the tent can look up and watch their
doubles strolling along in the mirror world. Observers outside the
tent can see reflections of trees, the city skyline and slices of
sky, with clouds floating across the mirrored roof.
MirrorMirror was the winner of a competition that Storefront for
Art and Architecture, the New Museum and Architizer held this
spring to produce visually compelling, prefabricated tents that
create new ways for people to gather and engage in urban
“Our structure is very simple, but it relates to you
through the mirror effect. You’re seeing something which
appears to be there, but is not there, so it has this dream-like
quality,” said Rafailidis, an assistant professor of
architecture at UB.
“Our work focuses on creating structures or buildings that
relate to people, independent of how or where the structure is
being used,” said Davidson, a clinical assistant professor of
architecture at UB. “MirrorMirror amplifies the activity of
the city no matter what the setting is.”
MirrorMirror includes nine structural units consisting of a
hinged, mirrored roof that rests atop a base of steel posts. These
units can be positioned side by side to form a continuous,
The project was designed and built in Buffalo by the UB faculty
members’ architecture practice, Davidson Rafailidis. It was
then shipped to New York City where it sheltered booths and crowds
on May 4 at the IDEAS CITY 2013 festival, which explores the future
of cities with the belief that art and culture are essential to the
vitality of urban centers.
For more photos: Contact Charlotte Hsu at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Georg Rafailidis, assistant professor of architecture at UB and
principal at Davidson Rafailidis, discusses MirrorMirror. The video
shows UB students testing the assembly of MirrorMirror at the Essex
Art Center in Buffalo.