The Contemporary Tea House


The tea house is one of Japan’s most original and significant architectural forms—a small, simple space for the tea ceremony that traditionally requires a hearth, straw-mat flooring and a low entrance.

Modern Japanese architects have found the challenge of redefining this highly formalized and constrained idiom almost impossible to resist. The Contemporary Tea House features twenty works that reveal the way world-renowned Japanese architects approach this intriguing subject using materials as disparate as charcoal, plastic and titanium. The participating architects are Arata Isozaki, Tadao Ando, Terunobu Fujimori, Hiroshi Hara and Kengo Kuma.

Directed at both the general reader and the specialist, this visually stunning book explores the works of these masters of modern architecture through superb photographs and informative drawings. In his introduction Fujimori gives a historical overview of the tea ceremony and the tea house that puts the modern works in context. Isozaki, Ando and Fujimori, each wrote a chapter that takes a behind-the-scenes look at their works and the creative process. Hara and Kuma contributed captions and brief explanations of their pieces as well.

A number of owners use their buildings as a stage for the tea ceremony, others enjoy them as spaces for meditation and reflection and there are even some who have discovered their tea houses are an optimal place to relax with a drink or a good book. Out currently in Japan, the book comes out in the U.S. this September 2007 and you can preorder from Amazon.

(The book is © 2007 Arata Isozaki, Tadao Ando and Terunobu Fujimori. Front cover photo by Mizuho Kuwata.)

by Jens Jensen