Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Sichang-Road Teahouse in Kunshan, China by Miao Design Studio
April 17th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Miao Design Studio
This project tries to address a mega problem at a micro scale — Chinese urban residents‘ increasing isolation from nature. Kunshan is in the Yangtze River delta region, a flat land with lots of rainfall. Towns in the region historically developed a unique landscape of crisscross canals and numerous ponds. Traditional buildings were next to or even cantilevered over the canals.
Unfortunately, the rapid urban expansion and renewal of the past three decades have not only made cities bigger, but also transformed many urban water areas into six-lane streets and dense towers. Even though developers created some fountains in their projects, these features tend to be of dead water.
Various regulations further keep people and buildings from any intimate contact with remaining rivers and lakes. As a result, today’s urban children often forget the feeling of natural water, along with earthworms and crickets, which are part of the symptoms of apathy toward nature in Chinese high-density cities.
As an architect, I try to alleviate this big problem with a small step – designing buildings that encourage people to develop intimacy with natural water so that they will love nature more and demand a more holistic urban environment.
Located between an urban street and a preserved river in a new residential area of Kunshan, the design of the teahouse explored ways to allow users to be truly close to the water. The river level fluctuates greatly. Therefore we designed an intermediating pool that draws its water from the river. Viewed from the teahouse, the pool appears to merge with the river. A row of metasequoia trees along the river bank is continued into the pool.
Ten private tea rooms take the form of glass pods surrounded by water and half-sunken into the pool. Users can open the windows and touch the water under their elbows, just like in a boat. Tiny fountains (drawing water from the river) are bubbling in the gaps between the pods.
A layer of wood trellises with vines above the glass roof affords people the feeling of peeking into the bright river from under the dark shades. The design of the trellises also experimented on a double curved version of “flat curve”–a form often seen in traditional Chinese architecture– with a low-tech and low-cost method.
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