Chinese design studio MINAX Architects have combined contemporary architecture with traditional Chinese tea drinking rituals in the ONE Teahouse, a cocoon-like space crafted from 999 handmade wooden sticks. Spanning an area of just 17.86 square meters (about 59 square feet), the compact tea house is a result of the renovation of an existing timber structure in Shanghai’s Hongkou District. The architects completed the project over the course of three months.

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wooden stick close up

View from table to entrance

Tea has long been an important part of traditional Chinese culture. However, with the advent of tea bags and busy lifestyles, the historic rituals surrounding tea are often overlooked or forgotten. With ONE Teahouse, MINAX Architects wanted to create a space where drinking a cup of tea would be elevated into an act of spiritual significance.

looking into the room

Round window

Drawing inspiration from traditional Chinese wooden architecture, MINAX Architects inserted handmade wooden sticks of varying lengths into the oriented strand board walls of a rectangular room. Each stick was cut to a different angle and length to create the illusion of an ellipsoidal space. At the center of the space is a low “YI ZHANG” tea table by Shanghai-based furniture designers MINAXDO surrounded by six seats. LED lights illuminate the interior.

Long tea table and seats

tea house with no furniture

Related: ARCHSTUDIO inserts a modern teahouse into an ancient Chinese structure

“On one side of the room, a round window faces the urban road, while a square doorway is adjacent to a garden on the other side,” MINAX Architects wrote. “That is because [we] were inspired by an old Chinese saying —’The circle has a tread of auto-rotating, and the square has a tread of stable.’ The specificity of the space brings the people strong psychological hints. The theme of the teahouse is ‘ONE.’ ‘ONE’ and ‘RESTART’ are two words of the space where we could reach a higher state of consciousness.”

+ MINAX Architects

Images by Zhigang Lu