In Eugene, Oregon, designer Ben Waechter turned a residential home into a tea house and sampling room by borrowing ideas from another building typology: the theater.
A theater is crafted to quite literally hold center stage. From its grand proscenium that frames the performance platform to its scale that signifies its monumentality, a classic theater clearly states its streetscape presence. When Waechter (who designed the Z-Haus, a sustainably designed duplex in Portland, Oregon, featured in our September 2010 issue) was tasked with transforming an existing single-family home into a sales space for J-Tea International, the biggest challenge was that the building was not big at all.
The first of three trasformations, as Waechter calls them, was adding a canopy. Having been used as a home, despite its location in a commercially zoned area, the house shrunk back from the street. The new canopy does just the opposite: "It engages pedestrian and vehicular traffic," Waechter says. And as Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown showed us in Learning from Las Vegas, if you want to be noticed at 35 miles an hour, you need to be a duck, a decorated shed. In the case of J-Tea, the white, powder-coated, aluminum louvers create a hanging cloud floating over the entrance.