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Digital Fabrication

Digital Tea House critic: Phil Ansalone and Toru Hasegawa

digital - traditional

Digital Fabrication Workshop

taking cues from the rich tradition of the tea ceremony, the digital tea house witnesses the common language that parametric design has with architecturally dependant traditions

technology: Grasshopper, mill site: Tokyo University, Tokyo, Japan

2010. Workshop. Tokyo University + Columbia University


digital tea house

programming ritual Design charettes focused on finding a place for digital scripting within the implications of the tea ritual. In plan, we studied ways of inscribing the seating arrangement into the floor. The enclosure addresses the conflicting requirements of privacy and openness with a customized slatting approach.

Using Rhino Grasshopper’s tools for relating geometry to parametric attractors, we developped a floor pattern and panelization system that both respond to important locations in the tradition tea house program. The topography inscribed in the floor simulates stepping stones ending in the appropriate seating. The panels address the visual height for a sitting person, as well as dramatically accentuating the location of the sacred corner, or tokonoma. The space is completely open and yet achieves intimacy once seated for the ceremony.

Tatami mats have a standard size and stitch spacing that are used to orient the host and guests in situating themselves. Borrowing from raking patterns created in zen gardens, the floor organizes the typical program of the tea ceremony into a more fluid typology.

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digital tea house 4 5

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fabrication

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The material provided for construction was 9mm plywood, and the manufacturing technique was a router. We managed to efficiently nest all our pieces with minimal wasted material. The parts, while all unique, with the exception of the floor structure, were to have sufficient tolerance during construction thanks to the geometry of the system. The tea house comes together as series of bays, each with a set of wedged panels, that can be inserted at different depth to accommodate for fabrication imprecisions. The columns are thus doubled to allow for easy assembly and disassembly.

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Seating and hearth Controlled by attractor points

Host path Controlled by divided curve

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Guest path controlled by divided curve

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digital tea house

Horizontal lines are projected onto the panels, thus accentuating their varying slopes. While the columns are spliced to deal with material limitations, the divisions help the assembly method of connecting neighboring bays to each other. The floor is raised on pedestals that are also used to located the bays and resist their moment.

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digital tea house

A two sided splicing technique facilitated assembly of the column after its two sides have been engaged to their respective bays. The shading membrane is tensioned within those splices, thus contributing increased stability for the structure which otherwise wants to tip outwards.

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Minor Cable Line

Ties from the end of the fold to the column 12 total connections

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digital tea house

initial assembly

final (typical) assembly

The first assembly took place inside the studio, where all the panels were glued to their bays, and the floor was constructed into just four parts. The walls were also preassembled into two- to four-bay components, such that they were still easily carried by two people, and reducing mounting time and effort.

The parts were then re-assembled onsite in the courtyard outside of the studio at 6am in order to avoid the heavy afternoon sun. The initial assembly took a day to achieve, while the final - and therafter typical - assembly took merely 2 hours from start to finish. Disassembly took under 45 minutes.

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digital tea house

tea test The testing of the tea house was the most exciting experience of all. The structure proved itself relevant to a centuries old architectural tradition time and time again as every member of the team acted as guest to tea master’s ceremony. The house achieved the desired program with added bonuses of transparency, intimacy, and delight.

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Digital Tea House  

GSAPP Tokyo University August 2010

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