On the outskirts of the Chinese city of Jiaxing, European architecture practice MADAM has completed the Gingko Forest Tea House, a tiered timber building that immerses guests in nature. Taking cues from the area’s ginkgo trees that are laid out in a grid formation, the architects crafted the three-story building as a continuation of the grid while using a material palette of wood and glass to emphasize continuity with the forest. The project was designed in collaboration with Chinese architecture firm Hexia and opened its doors in Spring 2020.
Located on the western shore of Swan Lake, the Ginkgo Forest Tea House embraces its natural surroundings in both materials and orientation. After taking a train to the site, visitors follow a timber boardwalk — elevated for reduced site impact — that snakes through the trees to reach the tea house. In contrast to the winding pathway, the tea house is highly orthogonal and resembles a pyramid with its tapered form. Trees grow in and around the rooms, which are open-plan and surrounded by full-height glazing.
“All together, the forest prevails as the main character,” the architects said in a project statement. “The pavilion remains as an inconspicuous piece of architecture in between the ginkgoes.” Inspired by traditional Chinese wooden joinery techniques, the architects use a similar construction method that overlays bidirectional beams; the timber structure has been left exposed and the interiors minimally furnished.
The Ginkgo Forest Tea House spans three floors, each offering different viewpoints of the ginkgo trees and beyond. The interior rooms seamlessly connect to the exterior terraces that are fenced in by wooden slats and arranged so that views of the outdoors can be enjoyed from at least two sides. A sense of playfulness pervades the tea house and becomes more apparent on the higher levels, where sections of flooring fold up to create sitting nooks. A slide and climbing net has also been installed for children.
Images via MADAM