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Japanese architect to raise tea drinking to new high -- literally

2011/05/02 22:37:25

Taipei, May 2 (CNA) Surrealist Japanese architect TerunobuFujimori unveiled a highly anticipated tea house project in TaipeiMonday in which he will build two small structures with the help oflocal residents and suspend them five meters above ground.

On Monday, Fujimori showed off the frame of one of the two teahouses that will be built with wood and copper sheets and thensuspended in mid-air with the help of bamboo stems at the Huashan1914 Creative Park.

The architect and architecture historian demonstrated how toshape the copper sheets, which were being used for the small teahouse's roof, to 60 fifth-graders from Zhong Xiao Elementary Schoolwho were helping with the construction Monday.

The children also helped spread water glass on the wooden wallsto help protect them from the elements.

"I do not use modern building materials because steel bars andcement are incompatible with nature," said Fujimori, who is known forhis creative use of natural materials and plants.

He is comfortable using copper, however, because it is waterproofand can stand pressure and friction, and the green color it turnsafter rusting echoes the color of nature, said the professor with theInstitute of Industrial Science at University of Tokyo.

The tea houses, each of which will weigh an estimated one metricton, will have a capacity of 10 people, who will have to climb 5meters in the air to get in.

"He was attracted to the place (Huashan) , which used to be abrewery in the Japanese colonial period, when he visited here lastyear. So he happily agreed to leave a piece of work in the park, "said Wang Jung-wen, chairman of the Taiwan Cultural-CreativeDevelopment Foundation, which operates the art space.

"Let's look at this work as public art rather than architecture,"Wang said. "He treats architecture as something that can be playedwith and completed by both children and adults.

Although Fujimori designed the building, it will ultimately bebuilt with the help of members of the public, a concept Wangconsidered very unusual in Taiwan and one he felt makes the projectprecious.

In fact, another group of local residents was scheduled toparticipate in ongoing work on the first tea house on Tuesday,according to the organizer. The timetable for building the second teahouse was not disclosed.

Fujimori has had previous experience designing tea houses. Thearchitect was commissioned by former Japanese Prime Minister MorihiroHosokawa in 2003 to build a tea room for former French PresidentJacques Chirac ahead of his visit to the country.

(By Kendra Lin)