Text description provided by the architects. This modern sheet metal-sided two-story wooden house in the remote lush green hills around Ali Mountain in central Taiwan features a quaint 1st-floor combination tea bar & reception area and a 2nd-floor traditional tea ceremony space featuring a Japanese-style raised floor and tea preparation area with sweeping views of the surrounding hills and valleys. The indoor spaces used repurposed wood from the family’s nearby multigenerational house, integrating the family spirit into this modern space.
The client, a second-generation tea farmer, drew inspiration for this project from the Japanese drama Yasashii, featuring a remote coffee shop. The tin house echoes the theme built high in the tea-producing Ali mountain range. Carrying on family traditions and family spirit inspired the clients to salvage and repurpose timber from the old family home stamped with the grandfather’s name. Integrating the old with the new led to refashioning beams into cabinetry, doors, and tea ceremony table.
The structure is steel I-beams and wooden with corrugated sheet-metal siding to stand up to the elements. Interior spaces are natural wood with a granite counter bar for the downstairs service area. First-floor shelving highlights repurposed planks hung with modern industrial hardware melding the old with the new. Gold trimmed chairs and brass touches and hardware are used throughout, as well as a combination of antique and new hardware.
The small structure has a useable space of about 53 m2; divided equally between the first and second floors. The first floor has a service area with an indoor bar seating area and an outdoor window bar, and one small bathroom. The second floor is open with a tea ceremony area and a long communal tea ceremony table opposite.
Guests are welcomed with the calming outdoor window bar and deck opening into the reception downstairs tea bar area. The object is to bring guests into nature and taste the teas of the client. Accommodating for a variety of seating positions, the upstairs tea ceremony space is focused first on the sampling of teas and the views and scenery enhancing that experience. Bamboo, semi-transparent vertical curtain rolls allow for the transformation from the tasting to taking in of view.
As the orientation of the tea house is northeast, the morning sun heat required adequate ventilation. Another aspect of the project was accommodating guests seating around the two upstairs tea ceremony areas. Floor mats and sunken spaces under the main tea table were needed to provide comfort for various people's needs. Also, as the tea tasting experience involved both internal and external experiences, a way to mute the eye-catching scenery during the first step of the tasting was needed.
The main challenges are the elevation at 2200m, rapidly changing weather, and the remoteness of the location. Construction was extended by 4 times the original plan due to delays caused by the rapidly changing mountain weather. The two-hour drive up windy mountain roads with no restaurants or other amenities created a logistical issue in providing food for the guests. Another challenge was incorporating original wood from the old family home.