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Black Forest family fights winter blues with huge sun mirror

The Local · 15 Nov 2010, 15:45

Published: 15 Nov 2010 15:45 GMT+01:00

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Many people in northern Europe suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder thanks to short winter days, but in Simonswald, a valley community nestled in the southern Black Forest, darkness prevails for almost half of the year.

“In winter we don’t have sun for up to five months – it’s hard on the psyche,” said Ulrike Schuler, who with her husband Thomas has managed to redirect sunshine into their living room during the dark days.

Click here for photos of the Schulers’ massive mirror.

The couple, who run a bed and breakfast called Haldenschwarzhof, have put up a two-by-two-metre mirror along the valley rim on a neighbouring piece of property after getting the idea from a movie.

“While watching television we saw similar construction in Piemont, Italy,” said Schuler. “Then we did some research online.”

The Schulers found their solution in Frankfurt, where they engaged a company that helped them create the sunlight diversion system, which has now been in place since early November.

“It’s not a big space, but just about four by four metres that are now sunny and warm,” Schuler said.

While some members of the community have accused the family of using the enormous mirror as a marketing ploy for their holiday property, they say their only concern was winter well-being.

“I grew up at an altitude of 1,000 metres in Bernau in the Black Forest. There we had sunshine from morning until night,” Schuler explained, saying she found the darkness in the valley far too taxing on her mental health.

“The venture was worth it,” she said.

Story continues below…

The Schulers are now considering a second such mirror to light their home naturally, but it could mean more teasing from neighbours.

“I’ve had to explain to a number of people that I’m not trying to get a tan – that’s not what the mirror is about at all,” Schuler said.


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Your comments about this article

18:34 November 15, 2010 by Kayak
Upon reflection, what a shining idea!
18:43 November 15, 2010 by hanskarl
Innovative and unique. They should add 5 more to light up some more windows. No doubt the cost is prohibitive.
21:47 November 15, 2010 by dbert4
I used to burn ants as a kid with a mirror just like that.......huh.
21:55 November 15, 2010 by wolfer
Move to Arizona! We have all the sunshine you could want over here.
08:15 November 16, 2010 by ErickDDiaz
No! move to California. WEEEEEE have all Sun , sand and beach that you can have.
09:24 November 16, 2010 by catjones
Since the sun must be shining for the mirror to work, why don't they simply look out the windows facing the southern exposure?

On a cloudy day (as the story claims to be the problem) the mirror is useless.
11:17 November 16, 2010 by canadianinberlin
Okay, catjones, I'm going to explain it to you, pay attention there'll be a quiz: They live in a valley. The mirror is on a hill. The sun's rays don't reach the bottom of the valley where they live 5 months of the year because of the sun's position....
15:04 November 17, 2010 by catjones

Thx for the ass-tronomical info. Where would this world be without rude people like you?
18:21 November 20, 2010 by supermc
Well catjones its the truth isn't it,and canadianinberlin is spot on.
19:23 November 23, 2010 by TheWitcher
I have to agree also with canadianinberlin. Even if you look at the pictures, you can see that they are in a valley almost instantly. Brilliant idea I have to say.
14:24 November 25, 2010 by Quasy
Not so brilliant I would say. For me it looks that the design may be improved with a convex mirror, in order to scatter the light on the whole house rather than a concentrated beam on a single window. Indeed the light intensity will decrease but I think that as the design currently is, the light beam is too concentrated anyway, and the contrast in too high.
00:10 November 27, 2010 by Wireless.Phil
If it doesn't track the Sun, mark it as FAIL!
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