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Teahouse in Chengdu by Scene Architect

Tea room is the space that best interpret Oriental philosophy. Tea drinking embodies Chinese people's philosophy of life, and the space that accommodates this activity carries cultural significance and spiritual value beyond its function.


Designer: Scene Architect

Photographer: Jian Zhu Studio

For this project, Scene Architects conveys Oriental life philosophy by the creation of a physical space. The design team introduces nature into the interior, allowing visitors to experience space and time while wandering around. The project also explores the expression of traditional culture in a contemporary context.

01 Door


The door is a poetic world.

It is in the past and the future.

As we cross over,

We experience life.

— Hu Wei, Founder of Scene Architect

Throughout history, people have been craving for a spiritual retreat. In the context of fast-changing and boisterous contemporary life, this project creates a space that represents the Oriental philosophy of life, and shows a return to tradition and a new interpretation of modern life.

The space is separated from the outside hustle and bustle by a rather thick door. Behind the closed door, the guests are taken to a journey transcending the earthly world.

When the door closes, the space transforms into a 'mountain', bringing about a spiritual retreat for the guests.

02 Wall

The wall is a mountain.

I built a space about mountains,

because everyone has a mountain in his heart.

The mountain stands between heaven and earth,

hidden in the heart.

It is a challenge to oneself.

Life only goes on and on,

measuring the strength of scales with our feet.

Every time one crosses,

it stirs up a subtle vision in the heart.

— Hu Wei, Founder of Scene Architect

Two walls erect on the stairwell at the entrance, with shimmering light shedding from above. The monument-like structures and the central axis make one feel as if standing on a 'mountain'.

To see 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.

The walls seem to be separate, nevertheless open different paths for 'climbing the mountain'. Rambling around in the space gives one the pleasure of exploration. The slightly oppressive front area is a prelude to the open, surprising experience at the later stage of the 'journey'.

03 Road

Road is an important component

of our design experiment in this architectural space.

The existence of road,

allows us to gain different memories and experiences.

A way to reach different worlds.

— Hu Wei, Founder of Scene Architect

As exploring 'amongst the mountain', the paths and doors appear to be extended by the scenery and light. Multiple tentative paths are created, so that visitors are free to linger or proceed in a roundabout way.

There is no clear direction in the space, leaving room for freedom and exploration. Like the road of life, as we cannot foresee the next journey, we might as well enjoy the present moment and savor the view along the way.

Rustic materials including volcanic rocks, concrete, iron handrails and rubbles are used to construct the space through contemporary techniques. The natural light from above and the gentle sound of running water make the guests feel like exploring amongst a mountain.

Rustic materials including volcanic rocks, concrete, iron handrails and rubbles are used to construct the space through contemporary techniques. The natural light from above and the gentle sound of running water make the guests feel like exploring amongst a mountain.

The second floor is highlighted by greenery, which connects the space closely with nature.

Grass planted beside the corridor is connected to the miniature waterscape at the entrance, which nourishes the greenery uninterruptedly. The water system is more than just stagnant water, but symbolizes a stream flowing through the 'mountain'.

A dynamic rhythm is formed by the 'clear pond' and the 'mountain stream'. The water system in the space bubbles up a fantastic experience.

People, water and scenery converge in the space, leaving behind the fast pace and restraint of daily life. Pacing about leisurely, the mind is stripped of burden and deeply calmed.

04 Room

Confined to a room, but not confined by the heart.

Simplicity blends the ancient and the modern. Time produces elegance.

The four tea rooms on the second floor possess distinctive charm. The two traditional tea rooms are enclosed by antique-style wooden grille doors, featuring a strong sense of layering and a tranquil ambience.

The tea room located on the circulation loop formed by corridors is like 'a pavilion in the garden'. The shimmering light penetrating the grilles interacts with the shadows and grass, forming a charming scene without disturbing each other.

Another traditional tea room is connected to the courtyard, without any sophisticated decorations or eye-catching colors. The simplicity and purity leave the tea room to people, objects and scenery.

The greenery and breeze of the courtyard enter the room through the door. With a solitary lamp, a collection of books, a ray of moonlight, and a cup of fragrant tea, the space invites people to sit and enjoy inner peace.

The paintings, furniture, antiques, collections and tea in the room are mostly beloved possessions of the owner. The simple space gives way to showcase these pleasant and elegant objects, and reproduces traditional aesthetics in a contemporary way.

With the passage of time, the furnishings of the tea room may change in accordance with the owner's taste, but the quiet and simple tone of the space will remain unchanged, conveying the owner's philosophy of life.

The activity of tea drinking has undoubtedly been enriched with new forms in contemporary times. In the other two tea rooms, the design team incorporated a contemporary lifestyle.

The classical tea table set by the window allows one to sit in front of it or to lie down and listen to the rain. This relaxing way of tea drinking is more adapted to contemporary people's leisure preferences. Here, drinking tea is not only a traditional ritual, but also a way of gaining inner tranquility and a relaxing experience of meeting and communicating with friends.

05 Courtyard

Plant trees to build a courtyard, attract birds to settle down.

Changing light and shadows in four seasons are collected in a small space.

The courtyard connecting with the teahouse helps to bring nature into the interior space. It offers a venue for one to sit and meditate quietly, or talk with others while sipping a cup of tea. It provides a rare natural view in the urban concrete jungle. 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.

The tree, the waterscape and the building structures produce a 'boundless' spatial atmosphere in the small courtyard.

The courtyard is formed by plain materials such as barks, bamboo, elm wood and stones, which will reveal a charming sense of antiquity as time passes.

Through the courtyard, the design is intended to expresses not only the dimension of the physical space, but also the perspective of time. Our spiritual world changes over time, and our mood varies at every stage of life.

Isolated from the bustling outside world, the courtyard offers a calming, immersive experience that purifies the mind. People are able to experience nature and time in the courtyard, and mediate to obtain inner peace in the room.

The design team created physical experience in the space through simple, restrained yet sensitive expressions. Doors, walls, rooms and the courtyard are connected and combined to shape an exploratory spatial environment. Meanwhile, light, shadows, sky, earth, nature and water endow the space with spirit. With the sun rising and setting, flowers blooming and leaves falling, people can feel the passage of time here, and experience a contemporary Oriental lifestyle. By creating a 'secluded mountain', the space provides a spiritual retreat.


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