Digital Tea House by GSAAP + UDTA

Just over a month ago, the architecture blogosphere saw an awful lot of Sukkahs thanks to an article in the New York Times. This week, we’ll look at other examples of wooden, ephemeral structures starting with the work of an architecture studio sponsored by Columbia’s GSAPP and UDTA in Tokyo. This past August, the studio designed and built three unusual and distinct tea houses using Grasshopper, an algorithm editor for Rhinoceros. But why? The GSAAP explains the studio as follows:

“The notion of learning via the body parallels the regimented practice of the Japanese Tea Ceremony called Sado. The ceremony or “the path of the tea,” is reflected in the tectonics of the spaces where it is performed, yet the practice of architecture has become digitized, often leaving behind this personal connection one might have to materiality. We seek to use act of constructing to allow the body to be the medium of learning, applying learned physical actions to intelligent digital techniques.”

Not to be nit-picky because I think the pavilions are great, but about the premise: how does using an algorithm editor (scripting) “allow the body to be the medium of learning[?]” Yes, the projects relate to the body, but completely abstracting the physical ritual associated with Sado to a series of mathematical, computer-driven operations doesn’t somehow impart kinesthetic knowledge. But I think it’s just a fancy way of saying ‘we building these for real, y’all!’ And I’m glad they did.


PS: the photos are from one of the studio’s participants, Michael Walch, who documented the progress of the studio on his blog. (personal highlight: model photos)

October 25, 2010