Shigeru Ban – Paper Tea House (2011)

Shigeru Ban’s Paper Tea House was part of a charity sale of Japanese art and design (sponsored by Phillips de Pury & Company) in order to raise money for the refugees of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami3. One of Japan’s most well-known architects, Shigeru Ban has been designing paper tube structures since 1989 with a portfolio that includes multiple refugee housing solutions for disaster zones in places such as Rwanda and Turkey, atemporary office that sits on the roof of the Pompidou Centre in Paris and a paper concert hallin L’aquila, ITALY. The Low-tech, adaptable and recyclable qualities of the structures are consistent with Ban’s ethical and environmental footing.

Shigeru Ban’s Paper Tea House | click to enlarge

Led by powerful lords who had gained control by being victorious in many small wars, the simplistic and ruinous iori hut soon morphed into a symbol of wealth and power. Expensive karamono, or Chinese ceramics, began to be incorporated into the design of tea houses, along with various other intricate displays such as the use of expensive wood and washi paper for the structure, latticework on the windows, and the application of lacquer to utensils and other elements. But during the early-to-mid-Muromachi period (1336 – 1573) a significant change took place, which shifted the direction of the tea house. Although it was led by several, for simplicity’s sake we will focus on Sen no Rikyu, who is often credited with sculpting the tea ceremony as we know it today, and whose name is synonymous with the Japanese aesthetic. Rikyu preceded to, one by one, strip strip each aforementioned trait, distilling the tea house down to his ideal space: the rustic tea house, or soan.

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