6 Tiny Outdoor Pavilions Inspired by Japanese Tearooms

A "chashitsu," which literally means “tearoom” in Japanese, is a freestanding, pavilion-like structure that was used for tea ceremonies, contemplation, and meditation in ancient Japan.

Traditionally, such tearooms include sliding doors made out of wooden lattices covered in translucent parchment, tatami floor mats, a tokonoma ceremonial alcove, and a sunken hearth for tea preparation in winter. 

The idea of the chashitsu has been adapted by modern architects around the world to create places for tea and thought, or for other contemplative rituals. 

Here are six modern outdoor pavilions inspired by these charming Japanese tearooms.  

Hot Tea by a Lake

Named after its charred-larch cladding, this tearoom designed by Czech studio A1 Architects sits next to a lake in a wooded area near Česká Lípa, Czech Republic. Its sliding doors can be opened for enhanced connectivity with the surrounding nature, or closed to create a more secluded oasis. At the center of the space is a hearth that has a teapot suspended from the sisal rope-domed ceiling above it.

Designed by California-based architects Swatt Miers, these three teahouses on a private property were conceived as spaces outside the main home that would be free from the distractions of internet, telecommunications, and television. The largest of the three pavilions is used as a workspace, the second as a bedroom, and the third as a meditation pavilion.

In Champaign, Illinois, this cedar hut by architect Jeffrey Poss was built as a raised platform that's accessed via a ramp. Inside are grass tatami mats, a miniature tea cabinet in a tokonoma alcove, and an oversized window that frames views of the trees. 

In collaboration with students from Cardiff University, architects Takeshi Hayatsu and Kristin Trommler built a 6.6-by-6.6-foot teahouse inspired by a 16th-century Japanese version in Kyoto called Tai-an. Surprisingly, they used an ancient Welsh construction method called wattle and daub, where woven hazel rods are attached to exposed timbers, then daubed on both ends with a chopped straw, soil, dung, and clay mixture. 

Suspended in a private residence's garden in the northwestern section of Washington, DC, this bronze-and-glass structure designed by David Jameson Architect Inc—which is illuminated from the ground up—looks like a Japanese tea pavilion, but is in fact a musical recital space that's also used as a room for dining and contemplation. 

Another project by A1 Architects, this teahouse rests on a circular platform enclosed by a translucent dome. Within, the dome is covered in laminated paper, which allows light to shine through, imbuing the interiors with an ethereal glow.


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