The history of tea in Chinese legend goes way back to 2732 B.C. It was at this time when Emperor Shen Nong discovered tea by coincidence as tea tree leaves blew into a pot of water, bathing it in a new flavor, fragrance, and color that the emperor loved. Ever since then, drinking tea has been a daily drink in Chinese culture and has spread all throughout the world where different cultures drink tea in their own unique way.
In Beijing, China, drinking tea is an honored activity in a beautifully renovated teahouse called the Blue Lake-Lakeside Teahouse. A renovation project by Yi+Mu Design Office that went on from 2021 to 2023, the project was finally unveiled to the public this year and is now known as one of the best-ranked teahouses on social media.
The first thing to describe the teahouse is that it has a natural feel to it. Found after entering Lidu Garden’s north gate, it has an immaculate view of the green lake where a path continues to the shore past several gazebos and to an area only walkable by people. A two-meter platform extends from the building in the form of a seat-strewn corridor with French windows and a wooden grating. With this platform, it makes the building look like a floating island that interacts with the lake in the garden, offering a humanistic and natural scene.
Experiencing Relaxation In a Good Light
Good lighting is necessary in every space where you want to relax. In the Blue Lake-Lakeside Teahouse, the building’s central roof was opened to remove the darkness while a vertical core tube was inserted to give more light to the stairs. These stairs also have two private compartments–one above and one below. The upper layer features a glass roof that’s covered with bamboo mats for shade. When there’s sun, shadows gently flow in the space, and when gloomy, a nuanced aura pervades. All around, the building also has longitudinal windows to frame the outdoor scenery. In every corner, vibrant natural light floods in.
Inside a Bright and Clean Space
The designer’s focus was to make an interior space that’s neat, simple, and cozy. Beige, grey, and wood define this tone while steel columns work as the building’s skeleton connected by the solid wood fencing. At the staircase made only of solid wood pedals and outlined by light and flexible black metal, the core cylinder is surrounded by solid wood grilles. The side facing the front door and scattered seats is concave while a hollowed strip connects the inside and the outside. This concave grille gathers spirits and serves as the feng shui barrier between the two doors.
Further inside is an irregular array of shaped wire mesh lamps that hang down from the empty roof while the thin grille descends all the way from the ceiling like a waterfall and serves as the background of the bar-shaped tea table.
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The terrace meanwhile attains the original skylight and has a glass tea pavilion with a tea table and futons for sitting on. Outside the pavilions are straight trees with leafy canopies that surround the terrace, almost making the teahouse into an urban park where visitors can always transcend beyond the usual idea of relaxation.
Photos courtesy of Yi+Mu Design Office