Tea, one of China’s most precious culture heritages has remained popular throughout the thousands of years. As tea leaves come from modest tea trees, through the long process of picking the leaves, drying the leaves and finally produces a cup of tea.
Thus, tea requires an unassuming setting in order to understand its lengthy process. Today, the appreciation of Chinese tea has become an art and furthermore, many teahouses are designed for this purpose.
Among the lush ShiQiao garden, stands this humble tea house which embraces the traditional Chinese garden fundamentals while blending into the natural environment.
The tea house is known as the bamboo courtyard as it mainly uses bamboo to create an interesting play of vertical and horizontal lines. In some spaces, the vertical and horizontal elements intensify to form a psychedelic perspective, evoking a profound sensory perception.
Traditionally, Yangzhou courtyards are formed with inward facing pavilions, creating an internal landscape space. So, drawing inspiration from this, the bamboo courtyard was designed from a basic square footprint, fragmented into small spaces to create an internal landscape area. Each of the spaces has views into the surrounding lake, allowing a panoramic view of the area.
As one walks through the bamboo courtyard, the asymmetrical corridors present an intentional semi-obstructed vision with the layering of bamboos.
There is a strong experiential sense of space, layered from one to another; from totally open to the internal lake to narrow spaces between the rough brick finish and bamboo curtain.
From the exterior, the bamboo courtyard has a cube form with a variation of solids and voids. The strong verticality becomes more apparent at night when the teahouse lights up to illuminate the surroundings. The simple form illustrates the harmonious blending of architecture with nature.
Moreover, the natural materials such as bamboo and bricks have low embodied energy and low impact on the environment. The pocket of voids improves natural ventilation within the bamboo courtyard while the thick brick wall retains heat in winter, reducing the dependency of mechanical heating and cooling system.
One who appreciates tea would understand that every serving of tea differs in colour, scent and taste even if it is from the same pot. There is a layering of experience in enjoying every cup of tea. Thus, the bamboo courtyard is an abstraction of the tea experience, creating layers of experience through spaces.
If tea is an art and architecture is a way of life, then the bamboo courtyard is the portrait of the both worlds.