online: 28 july 2010
modified: 20, 28 july 2010

10 july 2010 a modern tea house

by terunobu fujimori

...after experiencing a miniature people's house (or play house for grown-ups... there is no quite-fitting name for it) ... a little black room on stilts with roof, walls and supporting tree trunks of charred timber... and 2 small trees growing on its pointed rooftop... and a ladder to enter from below... [not the modern step-ladder in the photograph but a more primitive-looking metal one]

...just enough words i hope to convey the charm of this seemingly purposeless building that immediately brings smiles and provokes strangers to talk to each other... especially when inside and sitting round the folding-table cum door-flap to the access hole in the floor... to make and drink tea from utensils resembling prehistoric pottery (but without the precise ritual of the traditional Japanese tea house ceremony)...

...i like also the improvised look of e.g. the four roughly hewn tree trunks each with four roughly hammered iron angle brackets (for stability not decoration)... though the whole thing is self-consistent, purposeful and 'very human' ... for instance as i write a bare arm emerges from a tiny window in a black wall and attempts (but fails) to close its tiny oak window frame with leaded panes that hinges outward... is called beetle's house because of its hard black charcoal exterior... which is achieved by burning the external surfaces with a gas flame...

...the architect (who is not an architect but a critic)* designs and builds tea houses for such modern uses as 'reconfiguring views of the surrounding landscape'... he says this house is 'quintessentially English'... he invited students of the Royal College of Art to design the ladder and the utensils for making and drinking tea...

...a bit too playful perhaps (for this modern world of mistakes and sadness) but surely welcome here and now...

*Terunobu Fujimori... his beetle's house is at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, in the exhibition 'architects build small spaces', curated by Abraham Thomas, 15 June to 30 august 2010.

for comfortable line length please set the window to about half of the screen width


© 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 john chris jones

You may transmit this text to anyone for any non-commercial purpose if you include the copyright line and this notice and if you respect the copyright of quotations.

If you wish to reproduce any of this text commercially please send a copyright permission request to jcj 'at' (replace 'at' and spaces by the @ sign)