AR Awards for Emerging

Honourable mention


Tea house

Saroma, Tokoro-Gun, Japan

December 2006
The tea house and its associated ceremonies occupy a cherished place in Japanese life. Qualities such as stillness, slowness and asceticism speak of a different sort of world and are a quiet retort to the blare, bustle and sensory overload of modern Japan. But in the ancient lineage of tea houses, there has never been one quite like this. Designed by Jun Igarashi, it is conceived as two compact concrete huts, sunk in a bunker-like pit capped by a 'roof' of rusted steel plate which also functions as a kind of al fresco dining table.
The site, in remote northern Hokkaido, is a pastoral, suburban backyard, surrounded by houses and trees. The tea house/table is for the use of the neighbourhood community, who can engage in either ritualistic contemplation or communal jollification. Steps lead down into the tea house pit and the entrances to the concrete huts are simple orthogonal apertures. There is no protection around the edge of the pit to prevent accidents (this would spoil the dining table effect), but perhaps the suggestion of risk is enough to deter (or stimulate) childish curiosity.
The judges felt that this rather curious tea bunker arrangement was highly site and culture specific, and could only work in Japan, where people seem more prepared to understand and respect architectural intentions, however offbeat. Nonetheless, despite being perplexed by the project's quirky otherness, they were also charmed. C. S.

Jun Igarashi, Saroma Tokoro-gun
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