Cha Le Tea Merchant, Vancouver

Designed by: Leckie Studio
For client: Cha Le Tea Merchant Floor area: 62.60 M² Year of completion: 2017
Submitted for: Best Use of Material

Leckie Studio Cha Le 0491
© Ema Peter

A harmonic grid of voids optically multiply the space.

About the Project

Cha Le Tea Merchant provides a modernist interpretation to the traditional Chinese tea ritual “Cha dao”. The architecture creates a place to celebrate the ritual of tea-taking within a retail space, affording visitors the opportunity to learn about the tradition and culture behind this ancient ritual. The core of the tea ritual at Cha Le is centered around the latest advances in tea infusion technology, and the design of the space draws inspiration from traditional Chinese apothecaries, while creating a modern interpretation of a medicinal and spiritual place.

At Cha Le the senses are heightened by focusing on a single, humble material - birch plywood - that is transformed into a resonant and calming environment through a carefully considered and rigorous approach to detailing. The use of humble materials forged into precise linear forms conveys the project’s rationalist aesthetic while expressing a fresh interpretation of an ‘apothecary’ through the creation of a myriad of small shelving compartments. The creation of something beautiful with a humble material, is also a metaphor for the tea ritual itself – wherein simple organic ingredients are combined to create a sublime experience.

A single tectonic grid is used to organize all aspects of the space. The teahouse adopts a harmonic, subdued sense of lighting, delivering a softened light to the space and establishing a harmonic grid of voids that optically multiply the space.

What’s unique about it

In addition to being a strong spatial statement, the use of plywood as a single material allows the teahouse to become a space sensitive to the culture and rituals of the Cha Dao tradition without compromising its commercial function and contemporary aesthetic.

Materiality is central to the tea ceremony – beyond the sensual qualities of the tea, the interplay between natural elements in the space and objects of the ceremony equally informs the experience. The ceremony of exchange, and the concentration of awareness towards posture and gestures is articulated through simple objects. The senses are heightened by focusing on a single, humble material - plywood - and transforming it through a carefully considered and rigorous approach to detailing.

The sculptural mass and quality of the 'tea bar' creates and shapes the space around it. Leckie Studio found inspiration in the modernist plywood sculptures of Donald Judd, in which the material is elevated through an attention to minimal assembly connections and geometric proportion. Cha Le Teahouse makes use of a restrained quantity and monochromatic tonal qualities in the materials used and elevates it to an immersive sculptural experience.

Leckie Studio Cha Le 0784
© Ema Peter

Shelving detail

Leckie Studio Cha Le 0788
© Ema Peter

Shelving detail

Leckie Studio Cha Le 0543
© Ema Peter

Interiors detail

Leckie Studio Cha Le 0622
© Ema Peter

Exterior view, front of shop

Leckie Studio Cha Le 0439
© Ema Peter

A single tectonic grid is used to organize all aspects of the space.

Leckie Studio Cha Le 0341
© Ema Peter

As the ordering structure of the space may be described as rigid and orthogonal, hard edges are intentionally softened by the monochromatic colour palette that adds a soothing yet sophisticated quality to the overall reading of the space.

Leckie Studio Cha Le 0394
© Ema Peter

The teahouse adopts a harmonic, subdued sense of lighting – LED panels are integrate into the architectural grid, delivering a softened light to the space and establishing a harmonic grid of voids that optically multiply the space.

At Cha Le the senses are heightened by focusing on a single, humble material - birch plywood.

Location of project:
Credits:
Leckie Studio

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