Easily the best stumbled-upon finds of my trip to Melbourne, Australia, was the Black Teahouse, a small structure installed at the RMIT Gallery by Terunobu Fujimori and Jun Sakaguchi. I first came across Fujimori when we did a story on him for the magazine several months back, and since then I have wanted very much to visit one of his buildings. Just my luck that Fujimori had recently been in town and the students at RMIT constructed this exemplar of his work in conjunction with the exhibit Shelter: On Kindness. Check out the slideshow to see more. Photos by Jason Gec and me.
Here's a full shot of the Black Teahouse, a roughly 20-foot-high structure presently installed in the gallery at RMIT in Melbourne.
RMIT student Jason Gec took this photo of me sitting inside Terunobu Fujimori and Jun Sakaguchi's Black Teahouse from this year. Here you see the circular bench, central post, small table and hearth for heating up your tea.
Easily the strangest detail in the funny little place is this window planting of moss and asparagus. Whether I was meant to enjoy a spear with a cup of tea is, to me at least, unknown.
All the charred wood that makes up the exterior of the building was harvested from the devastating fires Australia suffered in February. The teahouse is meant to be a memorial to those fires and to the people and the animals that suffered so greatly from them.
Climbing into the Black Teahouse wasn't easy. The treads on the wooden ladder are quite shallow and the hatch was sufficiently small for my shoulder bag and I to get a bit caught on the way in. A little wriggling, sadly, was in order.
Jason Gec is a third-year student at RMIT and helped in the construction of the Black Teahouse. He remarked that Fujimori was "hardly a stickler about the building," and encouraged them to do the work as they saw fit. Jason took a lot of the photos in this slideshow.
I could not resist asking Jason to take a picture of me through the teahouse's little window over the top of the mossy asparagus.
This blueprint gives the best idea of what the finished structure should look like. It's mounted on the wall just next to the Black Teahouse.
There were three blueprints on the wall next to the Black Teahouse, but this third one was my favorite. Fujimori's drawings have a wonderfully naive quality, and his depiction of the builders lifting the top half of the structure onto the base has a comic book charm and made me wish Ikea would employ the same kind of infographics.
Though there is a small chimney over the hearth, this skylight allows the only undappled light to penetrate the porous structure.
Glimpsing a tea drinker framed by the small window, me in this case, is easily one of the best views of this charming building.