When a Silicon Valley executive asked architect Robert Swatt (Swatt Miers Architects) to design teahouses for his backyard, Swatt wasn’t sure where to begin, but his client explained that he wanted one for tea, one for life and one for work. He said, “I want three teahouses”. And I said, “Okay, tell me what a teahouse is?” and he said, “Well they each have their own purpose, one’s for meditation, one’s for sleep and one’s for work.”
Swatt created 8 or 9 models trying to determine the ideal shape for these tiny houses. “Would it be like a bandshell looking out over the canyon, would it dig into the ground, would it be lifted off the ground. And finally we settled on the one that was so simple and elemental which is a glass box supported by two vertical core elements of concrete lifted off the ground.”
All glass with steel and concrete for support, each tea house floats over the landscape. Cantilevered in place, the buildings help preserve the delicate root systems of the surrounding native oaks.
Swatt says they’ve received many requests to recreate these nearly transparent structures, even as stand-alone tiny houses, and he says it could work as a modern prefab. “We could do something like this, if you keep it down to something you could drive on the highway and you could lift into place with a crane, you could probably do that and probably save a lot of money too by building it in a factory.”