Traditional Japanese architecture is famous for its quiet elegance and strong connection to nature. Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka infuses those celebrated characteristics with a contemporary twist in KOU-AN Glass Tea House, a small transparent structure. Temporarily located next to the historic Shoren-in Temple on Shogunzuka Hill, the minimalist glass-and-steel teahouse overlooks panoramic views of the Kyoto cityscape and Higashiyama Mountains.
Yoshioka, a designer famous for the use of transparent materials, chose to clad the modern teahouse in glass to preserve the pavilion’s spectacular views and create a seamless integration with nature. In place of the scrolls and flowers typically found in traditional tea houses, the glass teahouse offers uninterrupted panoramic views and a rippling rainbow light that forms when the afternoon sun passes through the roof’s prism glass. Yoshioka likens the rainbow to “a flower of light that decorates the tea house.”
The glass teahouse design is more than a modern interpretation of the historic teahouse; Yoshioka hopes the structure will challenge viewers to think about the origins of Japan’s tea ceremony and why it’s become an important cultural practice. In addition to its glass roof and walls, the elevated teahouse includes rippled glass slabs that serve as the floorboards and benches. The structure is supported with a thin metal framework. After this month, the glass teahouse will be removed from its present location and used as part of a traveling exhibition.
Images via Tokujin Yoshioka