Arch Studio turns Beijing hutong into tea house

Arch Studio transforms Beijing hutong into tea house with curving glass courtyards

Curving glass walls enclose bamboo-planted courtyards in this tea house, which occupies a formerly derelict building complex in one Beijing's ancient neighbourhoods (+ slideshow).

Tea House by Arch Studio

Chinese firm Arch Studio was asked to redevelop the group of grey brick buildings in eastern Beijing, believed to predate the Qing Dynasty that ruled Imperial China between 1644 and 1912.

Tea House by Arch Studio

The studio began by repairing the old brickwork, and removing and replacing a pair of decaying timber structures built in the 1970s.

Tea House by Arch Studio

The L-shaped block forms part of a warren of narrow streets and traditional courtyard housing known as a hutong.

Tea House by Arch Studio

Although many of these high-density neighbourhoods have been destroyed, some are being redeveloped to create contemporary housing, businesses and installations. Beijing firm MAD has previously extended a hutong house with a series of metallic bubbles, while local studio Instant Hutong has charted the disappearing areas with intricate maps.

Tea House by Arch Studio

A pivoting glass door set in a narrow alley leads from the street into the tea house.

Tea House by Arch Studio

Curving courtyards cut into the body of the complex are filled with bamboo shoots and enclosed with glass panels to make the building weather-tight.

A series of private tea rooms are set around the edge of the courtyards and have slatted timber doors that provide outdoor access.

Tea House by Arch Studio

The traditional pitched and tiled roofs of surrounding buildings can be seen from the open-air courtyards.

Tea House by Arch Studio

"The new environment demands comfort requirements that the previous architecture cannot sustain," said the studio. "For the building to be temperature resistant as required, it will have to be completely closed."

Tea House by Arch Studio

"The gallery of the traditional architecture takes a half inside half outside form, significantly increasing the beauty of the garden," the firm said.

Tea House by Arch Studio

A corridor winds through the centre of the interlinked complex and around these glazed pockets. Wooden dining sets stationed along the pathway provide more public entertaining areas.

Tea House by Arch Studio

Original brickwork and timber are left exposed across the interior to contrast patches of new white-painted brick and glass, intended to create "a mutual dialogue between the past and future".

Photography is by Wang Ning.

Tea House by Arch Studio
Site plan – click for larger image
Tea House by Arch Studio
Floor plan – click for larger image
Tea House by Arch Studio
Sections – click for larger image