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Lingyin Teahouse and Guest House

A Contemporary Take on Ritual and Tradition

Amateur Architecture

Lingyin Teahouse and Guest House
By Li Xiangning -

Just before and after the Ching Ming Festival, is the best time to produce one of the best green teas in China: Hangzhou Longjing. The gentle rains during this season make Hangzhou resemble an ink painting. In the city’s most famous temple, the Lingyin, a tea room and guest house complex in a modest contemporary garden was finally completed after several years of design and construction.

The architect of this small garden, Wang Shu, had the idea of a small complex combining a tea, guest house and garden while enjoying tea and chatting with the monks of the Lingyin Temple. Of course, the monks first had to accept that the architect would not copy traditional Chinese styles, but adopt a contemporary language that they might not fully understand.

For Wang Shu, the contemporary and the traditional are inseparable. So, although the monks may have thought it a little eccentric, he built a simple style tearoom in the middle of a Song Dynasty courtyard. Six guest rooms, observation pavilion, veranda, stairs and pool are arranged in a narrow C-shape adjacent to the edge of the couryard wall. These garden elements create a small world that is both an abstract interpretation of the traditional garden but also a metaphor: taken as a whole, the construction resembles an artificial hill, the curving weaving stairs and verandas giving symbolically different views onto the garden. The design echoes the curved shape of the small
hill-like studio at Xiangshan School Campus, the red/gray collage of the Ningbo Museum of Art, and the winding walkable roof of Shui’an Shan Ju hotel in Hangzhou. Wang Shu has here brought together large and small elements of previous works, presenting them in an even more contemporary way.

A very rare kind of Chinese architect, Wang Shu has developed and insists on using his own original formal...

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