Tozan Tea House

Northern Arizona University Campus

The Tozan Tea House is a small structure that was built as Phase 1 in the development of the Tozan Japanese Garden on the NAU campus. The primary function of a tea house is to provide a room to perform the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony. Tea houses are simple, yet highly complex structures. As the selected architect, smithARCHITECTS (sA) dedicated themselves to understanding the symbolism and function of the traditional tea house and the ritualized procession of the tea ceremony itself. The floor plan layout is divided into three rooms that are organized using the traditional building module of the tatami mat. The entire structure is organized around a highly complex set of rules that govern everything from the arrangement of the tatami mat to the size, function, and placement of each door and window.
Traditional tea house construction is composed of a structure of bamboo framed walls and roofs, and the window openings are translucent sheets of rice paper. However, in order to accommodate the arid climate of Flagstaff, sA proposed a structure of dimensional lumber and peeled wood poles, while bamboo was utilized as a decorative element. Window openings received custom wood framed window units with traditional Japanese rice paper screens on the interior. The interior of the tea house displays solid bamboo flooring, traditional tatami mats, custom rice paper sliding door and window screens, and bamboo ceilings. 

Location: Flagstaff, AZ
Size: 415 s.f.
Completion: Sept. 2003