Copenhagen’s canals turn into a reflective cultural playfield with Teahouse Ø

Developed as part of the Floating Pavilion Ø program by Pan- Projects, the space encourages residents to appreciate and maintain the city’s water features and natural environment.

by STIRworldPublished on : Apr 03, 2021

Some of the wisest men and schools of thought have derived their learnings from silently introspecting in and around a stream, river, rain or the sea. Driven by the aim of reflecting the transient and meditative beauty of various natural phenomena induced by the attributes of water, Teahouse Ø is the first of a series of floating pavilions designed for the canals of Copenhagen by the London-based studio Pan- Projects in collaboration with Danish designer Helene Christina Pedersen. The project was not solely developed as an aesthetic feature. It  also sought to evoke a sense of pride and commitment from residents in the conservation and upkeep of the city's natural environment. They achieved this by extending public space into the waterfront, raising awareness of its importance in everyday life and inspiring many creative and cultural activities or mindful rest.

The project is the first in a series of pavilions designed for the city’s canals | Pan- Projects| Denmark | STIRworld
The project is the first in a series of pavilions designed for the city’s canals Image: David Hugo Cabo

Copenhagen was once a thriving industrial settlement, but its harbour and adjoining waterfront drew condemnation for being heavily polluted toward the end of the 20th century. Efforts by local governments have turned this image on its head in recent decades, transforming the city into a global beacon of sustainable living. Once too contaminated for bathing, the city's canals have now become vibrant, lively zones - adored by both residents and tourists, catering to an assortment of recreational activities. In fact, these exact qualities distinguish and endear Copenhagen's urban water features to its citizens, prompting them to take up active roles in its preservation.

  • Teahouse Ø was designed as a cultural pavilion to capture visual experiences caused by fluctuations in the canal’s waters| Pan- Projects| Denmark | STIRworld
    Teahouse Ø was designed as a cultural pavilion to capture visual experiences caused by fluctuations in the canal’s waters Image: David Hugo Cabo
  • The pavilion is mobile and can sail to wherever it is required| Pan- Projects| Denmark | STIRworld
    The pavilion is mobile and can sail to wherever it is required Image: Anika Kondo

With this narrative in mind, Teahouse Ø was designed as a cultural pavilion to capture the visual experiences caused by fluctuations in reflections, weather phenomena, and light on the water's surface with the passage of time. The pavilion's mobility allows its location to constantly change as it sails around the canal's waters towards wherever its use is required.

  • Axonometric View of Teahouse Ø| Pan- Projects| Denmark | STIRworld
    Axonometric View of Teahouse Ø Image: Courtesy of Pan- Projects
  • Roof Plan and Elevations of Teahouse Ø | Pan- Projects| Denmark | STIRworld
    Roof Plan and Elevations of Teahouse Ø Image: Courtesy of Pan- Projects
  • Floor Plan and Sections of Teahouse Ø | Pan- Projects| Denmark | STIRworld
    Floor Plan and Sections of Teahouse Ø Image: Courtesy of Pan- Projects

The roof and base of this innovative floating pavilion consist of wooden frameworks clad in fibre-reinforced styrofoam enveloped by plastic. Held up by six acrylic walls, the experimental roof structure features a carefully placed opening that allows light to permeate the interior of Teahouse Ø. Scores of transparent acrylic tubes are draped downwards from the roof in layers around the pavilion's periphery, to evoke the image of water cascading down its sides. This translucent boundary blends the canal's reflections, effectively enhancing its hazy, sparkling beauty, while tatami-inspired flooring creates an intimate, traditional atmosphere within the floating space. When viewed from the outside, the pavilion's appearance constantly changes with respect to its surrounding environment.

  • The experimental roof structure features a rectangular opening which allows light to permeate the space | Pan- Projects| Denmark | STIRworld
    The experimental roof structure features a rectangular opening which allows light to permeate the space Image: David Hugo Cabo
  • Scores of transparent acrylic tubes are suspended from the roof along the pavilion’s periphery| Pan- Projects| Denmark | STIRworld
    Scores of transparent acrylic tubes are suspended from the roof along the pavilion’s periphery Image: David Hugo Cabo
  • They evoke the image of water cascading along the structure’s sides| Pan- Projects| Denmark | STIRworld
    They evoke the image of water cascading along the structure’s sides Image: David Hugo Cabo

Teahouse Ø required three months of conceptual design work, followed by another two months for production. Since its inception, the floating pavilion has been warmly embraced by Copenhagen's residents, having enabled many activities that were previously not possible on the canal's waters - including yoga classes and meditation, as well as its namesake function of hosting tea ceremonies. Despite its use being curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the multifunctional space also played host to a socially distanced music festival last year by allowing a DJ to play inside it, as the public observed from nearby boats.

Teahouse Ø’s appearance changes constantly when viewed from the outside| Pan- Projects| Denmark | STIRworld
Teahouse Ø’s appearance changes constantly when viewed from the outside Image: David Hugo Cabo

Founded in 2017 by Yuriko Yagi and Kazumasa Takada, Pan- Projects is an architectural design studio based in London that is actively undertaking projects internationally. Dedicated to celebrating the power of diversity, the duo views architecture as a creation formed by the fabrication of complex elements.

The pavilion has been warmly embraced by local residents| Pan- Projects| Denmark | STIRworld
The pavilion has been warmly embraced by local residents Image: Anika Kondo

 Teahouse Ø is the first structure realised in the studio's Floating Pavilion Ø program, consisting of three pavilions encompassing cultural, commercial, social typologies sponsored by the Danish Arts Foundation and Beta Factory. Two other floating structures are planned for the future. The Oyster Bar Ø and the Plaza Ø, which will act as commercial and social pavilions respectively. Through this initiative, the studio hopes to celebrate the city's sustainable future while encouraging the public to appreciate Copenhagen's canals.

Project Details

Project: Teahouse Ø
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Architect: Pan- Projects
Area: 11 sq m
Year of Completion: 2019
Structural Engineer: Takayuki Fujimoto, Yohei Tomioka
Collaborator: Helene Christina Pedersen, Tetsuya Hosonami

(Text by Jerry Joe Elengical, intern at STIRworld.com)

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