OSTRAVA / ČESKÁ LÍPA (CZ) - Building a teahouse is not exactly a common occurrence in the Czech lands. Yet, despite the evident lack of local tradition, there are a number of clients who desire exactly this kind of structure.
Drinking tea has become something of a social phenomenon in Czech society over the last two decades, and tea lovers and public tea 'cafés' have proliferated accordingly. But the teahouses designed by A1Architects are not just following this trend. Apart from social gatherings, teahouses are a kind of retreat where people unwind, so the buildings also need to support the feeling of spiritual contemplation.
The influence of Japan – in both typology and style – is unmistakable. This is no superficial cultural transfer, but rather a personal fascination, as can be seen in their efficient use of space, sensitive approach to natural materials and handwork. The resulting building has the feel of a handmade product, a kind of unique artwork. The generally small scale of the teahouses demands the kind of elaborate solution that is so characteristic of Japanese architecture.
Yet A1Architects are no strangers to the challenges posed by a limited space; they have already experimented with it in an inventive way in other projects, and in their 'Small House' exhibition held in Prague in 2009. Both teahouses are set in private gardens and have a larch wood exterior, which is defined by a traditional Japanese technique of burnt wood. The playful, gentle charm of the buildings, whether inside or out, is supported by the sliding doors that generate various ways of perceiving the surroundings, the interior and the soul. (Vendula Hnídková)