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Beijing Tea House: the contemporary side of history
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It’s the most renowned location in Beijing as well as one of the most popular in China: that is the Forbidden City, located right in the heart of the capital. An ancient unique place characterized by wonderful traditional wood roofs, being the world’s largest collection of such wood architecture. Overlooking this historic treasure stands a tea house that today, thanks to the renovation we are about to show you, represents the perfect union amid history and modernity. The project of Beijing Tea House is by multi-award-winner Kengo Kuma and Associates – founded in 1990 by the namesake Japanese architect, one of the most important world’s Japanese architecture and design studios, based in Tokyo and Paris. The challenge faced during the renovation of the 250 square meter interior was to refurbish a Siheyuan-style building by both preserving its refined unique atmosphere and adding a strong contemporary feel.

To that end the studio chose to produce - by rotational molding - four types of polyethylene blocks, to be joined and stuck up as the structure of the extended part. The new blocks serve as the contemporary variation of traditional masonry bricks, the main architecture feature of the city of Beijing. Thanks to polyethylene, the new walls has high performing insulation properties but can also filter and reflect daylight, which results in the creation of an all-white a gentle space of Zen, where polyethylene replaces paper, the main material of Siheyuan-style interiors. An absolutely unique project, which lasted for four years, proving that a contemporary touch can respect as well as enhance the historic value of a building.

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PHOTO COURTESY: Koji Fujii/Nacasa & Partners Inc.


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