The clients request for a unique tea house, a tea island in the middle of the hardcore center of Athens guide us to an auto-referent introverted space with minimalistic architectural details based on the characteristics of the traditional Japanese architecture such as wood light and shadows.
The project presented three challenges.
The first was functional. To Tsai is one of the first teahouses in Athens in operation before the renovation in two fillers shops, a retail shop and a tea room. We had to unite the two entities into one. The second challenge has to do with the culture of tea. We chose Japan as the most representative entity of this culture because tea represents a lifestyle linked to a ritual done in a specific place with specific standards. We tried in other words to bring the customer not only closer to tea as a product but as a way of thinking. The third challenge has to do with the current state of the renovation space. It was a commercial space where multiple disparate elements, decorative and engineering were prevailing .
We responded to these challenges with the creation of an internal wooden skin that rejected all purely decorative elements, with references to Op Art, Loos and Tanizaki.. Each of the two functions in new store occupies one of the parallel ends, the width of the area, mirroring each other and allowing the creation of an intermediate flexible interaction space. The internal skin is converted from a product display showcase to tables and chairs, from one end to the other.
The, ornament free, wooden framework occupies the newly constructed interior skin of the tea house. A skin that shapes the ensemble of the functionalities of the tea house while forming its visual perception. Form texture and function are melted under the same distinctive element. 200 panels of glued laminated timber cover the entire interior space in all dimensions in a regular repetitive rhythm that brakes up its regularity periodically while keeping the same rhythm in order to organize the functional areas of the tea house.