- Tea House in Chengdu by Scene Architects
The 700 square metre space is defined by five key design elements: the door, the wall, the road, the room and the courtyard. Based on the assumption that people have always craved a place for spiritual retreat, so they can take a break from everyday life – a desire that is even more relevant in today's fast-moving and hectic life – it is the door that is the first element that we encounter and that, once closed, allows us to immerse ourselves in a peaceful and serene environment.
Once inside the Tea House, two walls rise up above the stairwell at the entrance. The imposing, monument-like structures and the central axis give the feeling of standing on a "mountain", an effect emphasised by the natural light flooding in from above. A well-conceived design gesture because, as the architects explain, "seeing the "mountain" behind the "closed door" is not so much a state as a symbolism. The wall separates the space from the mundane world, leaving the inside quiet and free, as if in a mountain."
From here guests set off to explore the tea room, each following his or her own path as there is no clear direction in the space, leaving room for freedom and the serendipity characteristic of life. The choice of rustic materials including volcanic rocks, concrete and iron handrails refer back to the primordial materiality associated with mountains, while also being a clear nod to contemporary techniques.
The second floor of the Tea House, which can be accessed via the monumental staircase at the entrance, is a space dominated by nature. The grass next to the corridor is connected to the miniature water landscape at the entrance, with a pond as well as running water, yet another clear reference to the mountain landscape.
The four tearooms on the second floor are each characterised by their own special charm. Two echo the stylistic features of traditional tearooms with antique-style wooden lattice doors, but all have a strong connection to the courtyard, the green heart of the Tea House, a rare treat in the concrete urban jungle of the city. Indeed, they allow guests of the Tea House to experience moments of intimate connection with natural rhythms."The sunrise and moonlight, the lush plants and the chirping of insects and birds, calm the inner mind and obtain the harmonious coexistence between man and nature", as Hu Wei explains.
The choice of simple materials such as bark, bamboo, elm wood and stone further emphasises this desire for a re-appropriation of nature within the closed and protected system of the Tea House.
With the Tea House in Chengdu, the designers of the Scene Architects studio have created a physical experience in space through simple, understated yet sensitive gestures, where each design element has a precise role to play in allowing us find a place reminiscent of a "secluded mountain", a space that offers a much needed spiritual refuge.
Project: Scene Architects
Location: Chengdu, China
Images: Jian Zhu Studio/ Ren Dong, George, Su Jiao, Wang Yongfeng