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We previously shared some examples of the triumphant second coming of tea in traditional Asian markets that have been recently seduced by the call of third-wave coffee – notably, China. Add this project to the list: Linehouse’s newest proposal borrows the grandeur of the teahouses of the country’s past and adds a decidedly contemporary way of engaging with it.

At Tingtai, located in Shanghai’s Moganshan Road art district, customers can enjoy the brewing experience atop stripped-back teahouse treehouses and down in cave-like recesses. This clever up-and-down layout manages to bring privacy to a social ritual, and provides visual diversity to a large open venue – previously home to a factory, the 450 sq-m space with double height-ceilings pulls the trick of making its massiveness feel intimate.

To achieve that, the Linehouse team started by stripping back the building to reveal a set of high-level clerestory windows, which then dictated the positioning of the booths so as to seize natural light. And the booths themselves? Above, the architects stacked a series of teahouses clad in brushed darkened stainless steel, with shifting roof lines; below, in a nod to the sunken living rooms of midcentury fame, several caved-in seating areas are framed by a glass horizon.

And then, around the treehouses and the caves, a forest of terrazzo emerges. The white-nougat material lines the walls and floors, and disappears into a staircase held by a metal green structure so deceptively fine that it appears to float on air.

Comparing this generously pared down proposal to its more opulent counterparts in the teahouse renaissance would confirm what you’d learn by spending a few hours in one of Tingtai’s booths: there are many different ways to brew a leaf of tea.

Designed by Linehouse
Photography by Dirk Weiblen


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