Steeped in the ancient history seeping from the traditional building it inhabits, and the piping hot tea it distributes, the Tea House in the Hutong district in Beijing is something truly special. It was constructed within an old building destined for demolition, but saved in order to give locals and distant visitors alike a place to gather, marvel, and relax with an authentically prepared cup of Chinese tea. The Tea House was designed by Arch Studio, and embodies the rich culture that surrounds while presenting new and interesting interior design.
During this project a careful site verification has been made that included historic research into the existing materials, styles, and artwork. This analysis proved paramount to the conceptual ground swell behind the design, as the architect was careful not to destroy too much of what would soon be left behind. Then they got to work, adding clean, contemporary lines with upcycled material to cultivate a serene space fit for sitting, meditating, and occasionally sipping.
Spotted throughout the Tea House are mini courtyards open to the sky. Shrouded in unobstructed glass, these courtyards offer a warm bit of natural light and sporadic vegetation. It provides just the right amount of visual relief from the overtly man-made features of the interiors. And while this renovation certainly represents a contemporary coat of fresh paint, the designers were quick to let be – even showcase – the traditional bones of the aging structure. There are moments of pure delight as sections of curved roof ribs, illuminated by LED strip lights, hover over freshly cured concrete floors and modern scandinavian furniture.
This project is one of many in the area aiming to breath new life into a historic district being left behind by one of the world’s most progressive metropolis. The Tea House represents responsible change in a city where much of the old is thrown out in favor of the new. It’s refreshing to see a design approach that doesn’t dismiss the rich history it attempts to enhance.
Arch Studio didn’t flinch in the face of a seemingly impossible design task. Many would walk by this once crumbling ruin of a forgotten dynasty, but the architect responsible for the Tea House saw a unique opportunity to rehabilitate a wounded space. With any luck, the Hutong district is poised to experience a transformation on much more grand of a scale.
Architects: Arch Studio
Photography: Wang Ning