Linehouse turns an old warehouse in Shanghai into a haven for tea drinkers
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Linehouse turns an old warehouse in Shanghai into a haven for tea drinkers

Focusing on providing a sensory tea drinking experience to the Chinese, Tingtai Teahouse in Shanghai, by architecture studio Linehouse, blends the traditional with the modern.

by Zohra Khan Oct 07, 2019

An abandoned factory in Shanghai’s art district of Moganshan Road got a new lease of life when local architecture studio Linehouse turned it into a splendid teahouse. The 450-sqm space has been designed to reflect the sensibilities of the Chinese tea culture, which regards tea drinking as ceremonious, an act where tea is not just consumed but experienced in its full flavour.

A view of the semi-open teahouses with brushed stainless steel and glass cladding | Tingtai Teahouse | Linehouse | STIRworld
A view of the semi-open teahouses with brushed stainless steel and glass cladding Image Credit: Dirk Weiblen

“The client, a tea enthusiast, sought to create a traditional Chinese teahouse with modern aesthetics,” said the design team. Teahouses are mostly private rooms where people gather to meet to refresh minds and clear thoughts. Traditional teahouses foster the tea ritual where from its meticulous preparation to its aroma, the colour and flavour is savoured over a course of few hours.

The multi-level teahouse chambers with ample inlets for natural light and surrounding views | Tingtai Teahouse | Linehouse | STIRworld
The multi-level teahouse chambers with ample inlets for natural light and surrounding views Image Credit: Dirk Weiblen

Despite it being a dilapidated space, the designers saw the potential of keeping the old factory’s identity alive with bare minimum interventions. “The existing space was stripped back to its raw state, exposing the patina of the concrete structure and the old brick walls and ceiling. An existing mezzanine was removed to expose a double height space with high level clerestory windows,” they explained.

  • The floating staircase leading to the teahouse | Tingtai Teahouse | Linehouse | STIRworld
    The floating staircase leading to the teahouse Image Credit: Dirk Weiblen
  • A striking green metal structure flank the white nougat terrazzo staircase | Tingtai Teahouse | Linehouse | STIRworld
    A striking green metal structure flank the white nougat terrazzo staircase Image Credit: Dirk Weiblen

A floating staircase held by a striking green metal structure, and white nougat terrazzo lining its floor and walls, welcome the visitors to the teahouse.

  • The play of multiple levels offer varying windows of privacy to the visitors | Tingtai Teahouse | Linehouse | STIRworld
    The play of multiple levels offer varying windows of privacy to the visitors Image Credit: Dirk Weiblen
  • The lower level teahouse sits on a green terrazzo landscape with inbuilt oak seating | Tingtai Teahouse | Linehouse | STIRworld
    The lower level teahouse sits on a green terrazzo landscape with inbuilt oak seating Image Credit: Dirk Weiblen

The Shanghai-based studio has stacked a series of teahouses with shifting roof lines at either end of the double height space. The lower level teahouses are designed with a low glass horizon that offers visitors privacy at eye level, while other elevated teahouses are entirely cladded in glass. Darkened stainless steel wraps the lower level teahouses, whose brushed surface emits a blurred reflection of the surrounding space. These private chambers rest on an elevated green terrazzo landscape, which allows guests to inhabit the recessed seating within. The interiors are cladded in smoked oak to reflect that same atmosphere of simplicity, warmth and comfort as one experiences in a traditional teahouse.

A palette of grey and green provides a warmth to the interiors | Tingtai Teahouse | Linehouse | STIRworld
A palette of grey and green provides a warmth to the interiors Image Credit: Dirk Weiblen

The designers have played with multiple levels of privacy and a rich material palette of grey, green and brown, to create both open and semi-open spaces that turn drinking tea into a pleasurable experience. The rest of the space doubles up as a space to host events for flower arranging and temporary art exhibitions.

While the teahouses dot the edge of the space, the rest is often used to host cultural events | Tingtai Teahouse | Linehouse | STIRworld
While the teahouses dot the edge of the space, the rest is often used to host cultural events Image Credit: Dirk Weiblen

Project Details

Name of the project: Tingtai Teahouse
Location: Shanghai, China
Area: 450 sqm
Year of completion: 2018
Architect: Linehouse


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About Author

Zohra Khan

Zohra Khan

A formal education in architecture combined with an avid interest in architecture journalism and design criticism led Khan to professionally venture into writing and research. She has worked in design communication for more than two years, generating content for mondo*arc india journal. When not writing, she kicks back by dabbling on social media for STIR.

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