Kyoto, Japan, has just acquired an all-glass tea house, a modern spin on traditional tea houses, which sits beside the historic Shoren-in Buddhist temple. Tokujin Yoshioka wished to preserve the customs of ancient tea ceremonies while breathing new air into the outdoor space. He states, “KOU-AN Glass Tea House will be an opportunity to look back what the origin of Japanese culture is.”
Yoshioka explains that traditional ceremonies incorporate elements of nature, usually by having tea houses surrounded by lavish gardens. He brings nature inside via the ripple designs on the interior glass surfaces, which resemble the energy of moving water. Afternoon sun rays also brings with it glimpses of colorful rainbow light, which hint at the patterns of flowers found in conventional ceremonies.
The structure itself is composed of a roof of overlapping glass panels and a framework of mirrored steel posts, which sleekly match the glossiness of the overall design. Large glass slabs create the flooring and three outdoor benches, all adorned with the aforementioned light-catching grooves and ripples.
The landscape of the surrounding gardens can be appreciated via the large deck space which encompasses the temple and KOU-AN. The Higashiyama Mountains and the contours of Kyoto can be viewed from above, allowing the sacred space to be within reach, yet still unplugged from the bustle of the city.
Images via Yasutake Kondo