Origami isn’t just beautiful—it can also be useful in architectural design. Katagiri Architecture + Design shows us how with Shi-An, a nomadic teahouse built with hundred of pieces of folded paper without the need for any glue. The minimalist structure embodies a Japanese sense of beauty and an appreciation of the concept of transience.
Winner of the RTFA 2017 Awards, Shi-An was constructed for the Japanese Culture EXPO 2016 at the Daidokoro in Nijo-Jo Castle in Kyoto, one of the most prestigious flat land castles constructed in the early 17th century. The round teahouse is built solely from “washi” paper, a traditional Japanese paper made from particular plant fibers, and evokes a contemporary feel within a traditional setting. Large pieces of washi paper, measuring 500mm by 1,000mm (1.64 feet by 3.28 feet), were folded eight times to create triangular units that can be inserted together with other units without the need for adhesives. The nearly seven-foot-tall teahouse can be easily constructed, deconstructed, and transported.
“This nomadic small tea house engages the spatial experience embodying the idea of Japanese simplified beauty which addresses momentality and intangibility in nature,” wrote the architects. “The cellular structure metabolizes its own body like living creatures for continuous adaptation to surrounding environments and its uses.” The teahouse features a small opening that requires users to bow their heads before entering as well as a small opening at the top to allow natural light to enter the space.