The Relic Shelter | Fuzhou Tea House

The Relic Shelter | Fuzhou Tea House

Conceived as an urban artefact and drawing from the historical roots of the city of Fuzhou, the Relic Shelter internalizes a piece of distinct heritage at a time when rapid new development has eroded traditional culture and identity. The client’s brief posed the unique challenge of creating an enclosure for a Chinese artefact – the wooden structure of a high-ranking Qing dynasty official’s residence, replete with ornamental carvings and intricate joinery. Relocated from Anhui to its new home in Fuzhou, the Hui-style structure is enshrined as the inhabitable centerpiece of a new teahouse.


John Thomson, The Island Pagoda (1871)

A series of contrasts plays out among elements that are bright and dark, light and heavy, coarse and refined, as visitors enter the grand hall where the structure of the ancient residence is situated. Sky wells penetrate the roof, bringing natural light into the depths of the enclosure and illuminating the priceless artefact on display. Only upon reaching the mezzanine does the structural configuration of the building begin to reveal itself. The hovering metal roof is lifted 50 cm off the solid base by copper-clad trusses to introduce a sliver of continuous illumination around its periphery. Wrapping itself around the historical wooden structure, the mezzanine space allows visitors to appreciate intricate carpentry details at eye level.

The basement level includes a secondary arrival lobby housing a rotunda, a sunken courtyard and tasting rooms. At the top of the rotunda, a carved oculus capped by glass is submerged beneath the pool in the courtyard above. It filters the sun through a thin film of water, creating a mesmerizing play of reflections.

John Thomson, The Island Pagoda (1871)

Gross Area
1,800 m2


Launch Time
January, 2021

Completion Date

2019 – 2021

Gulou District, #95 Longting Road, Fuzhou, China

Golden Trezzini Awards 2021, by Zolotoy Trezzini Ltd., RussiaFuzhou Tea House, Best Implemented Interior Design Project Using Works of Art, nominee
AThe Plan Award 2021, by THE PLAN Magazine, ItalyThe Relic Shelter | Fuzhou Tea House, Hospitality Category, Honorable Mention