In Asia, tea houses are typically striking examples of traditional architecture, reflecting the culture and history of the nations in which they’re built. But many architects are re-imagining this concept of a private, tranquil space dedicated to sacred or meditative activities through the lens of modern design. These 14 tea house designs include floating glass structures inspired by lanterns, temporary flat-pack huts and digitally designed shelters.
Glass Tea Houses in the Woods
A trio of minimalist glass cubes serve as tea houses, meditation and brainstorming getaways in the wooded backyard of a home in Silicon Valley. “Each tea house is designed as a transparent steel and glass pavilion, hovering like a lantern over the natural landscape,” says architecture firm Swatt Miers. “Cast-in-place concrete core elements anchor the pavilions, supporting steel channel rim joists which cantilever beyond the cores to support the floor and roof panes. With its minimal footprint, the design treads lightly on the land, minimizing grading and preserving the delicate root systems of the native oaks.”
Fujimori Tea House on Stilts
Japanese architect Terunobu Fujimori has a little fun with traditional tea house designs by placing them high on stilts, stringing them between posts or otherwise removing them from any sense of being grounded. This one is precariously perched on just two narrow trunks in Nagano Prefecture, and is accessible by a rather intimidating freestanding ladder. Fujimori intentionally pushes the limits of tea house architecture, making it a bit of a challenge to access them, but rewarding once inside.
Paper Tea House by Shigeru Ban
Architect Shigeru Ban is renowned for making unexpected things out of paper and cardboard – like bridges and even churches. The Paper Tea House was created as part of a sale of Japanese art and design, constructed of square paper tubes with an indoor space measuring just over 5 meters long.
Floating Glass Tea House
This tea house floats over the landscape, a glass and bronze rectangle suspended from a frame in the image of a Japanese lantern. The backyard structure, by David Jameson, is also used as a meditation space and a stage for the family’s musical recitals.
Modern Tea House and Meditation Hut
This private tea house is elevated on the edge of a peaceful lake in Illinois on the property of architect Jeffery Poss. The vaulted roof reflects the dappled light from the surface of the pond onto the interior ceiling, and also pours rainwater into the pond. A low horizontal window frames a view of the water.