J-Tea, Eugene, Oregon, United States
Benjamin Waechter, Architect

J-Tea International is an importer of Taiwanese oolong teas. The task of this project was to economically transform a small, existing single family house, located in a commercially zoned area, into a retail space for tea sales and sampling. In concept, the strategy was to strip the existing house down to a simple shell and use it as a quiet backdrop for 4 new discrete elements: canopy, porch, tea walls, and tea bar. The 4 elements work in unison to create a seamless progression from the busy street to the quiet sampling of tea.

CANOPY: The canopy is used to bring the presence of the building forward, engaging pedestrian and vehicular traffic and giving the former house a commercial scale. As you pass under the glowing louvers, the mood takes on a calm and spacious feeling. It is an airy, glowing entry court as well as an outdoor seating room. The white powder coated aluminum louvers stand out against the more subdued galvanized steel structure. The white louvers are placed below the support structure to give the impression that they are floating in space -- like a cloud.

PORCH: The porch draws one’s eye into the tea room by creating an aperture framing the interior space as if it were a stage set. It sparks curiosity and welcomes visitors. The porch walls, floor and roof are made from a relatively thin (5 1/8”) laminated beam of Port Orford cedar. The porch is cantilevered off of two slender concrete stem walls.

TEA WALLS: The tea walls form a ring around a central tea bar creating a calm and quiet room, heightening the senses for the smelling and tasting of tea. The tea wall grid is composed of maple plywood that circumscribes the room and incorporates window openings for a continuous appearance. The grid of shelves is filled with richly colored and textured merchandise that creates a variegated pattern.

TEA BAR: The tea bar is the hub and focal point of the room. People gather around to talk, sample and learn about tea.

Completed 2011

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