An unveiling

Pictures of the back garden have sometimes included a mysterious blue tarp covered item which, after two weeks recent work, is ready for an unveiling.

Throughout this year’s garden landscaping work, builder buddy and I also set aside some time for the construction of a chashitsu or Japanese style teahouse. It is designed to be part gazebo and part quiet, meditative space.

In earlier times, several terms were used for [such] spaces such as chanoyu zashiki (茶湯座敷, sitting room for tea ceremony), sukiya (place for poetry and aesthetic interests),…

The teahouse traditionally is raised a little above ground, so the first part of the design was to construct a base (6 x 4 foot ) on sturdy legs. By tradition, at least one leg stands in water, usually on a rock, and so the small top pond served as source. Rather than risk decay however, the leg was cunningly disguised as such by screwing it to a small sett/paver with a galvanised bolt down post support and rocks round to hide the metal.

one leg to stand within the small pond

Elsewhere, ‘found’ concrete setts were dry mortared beneath the feet for stability (these are called ‘padstones’) and where the ground at the front was friable, large stones were cemented in place beneath.

The walls are water resistant ply and had to be constructed in two parts for portage. This was quite convenient as the lower walls are not painted but treated with a brown wood preservative.

By contrast, the higher walls are painted white and the whole building is held within a black post frame. Actually, the posts are cleverly constructed so that they are only two sided and therefore much lighter. The building’s strength lies in the walls rather than the frame.

With some very impressive sunsets here in the clearer air of Derbyshire, the teahouse is open to the west, and will only have a low wattle style screen two-thirds across for viewing a water cascade. The back wall is fully enclosed against east winds whilst the North side is designed with the iconic circular Shoji windows (though it will be glazed with acrylic rather than traditional translucent paper). And letting in the sun and warmth, the south side is mostly open with just a narrow wall.

joining the walls and cutting the North window

The roof took a while to design. At first it was gabled so that the roof sloped east and west with a raised centre construction typical of many Japanese teahouses. But that made the whole building look too tall. The solution was to turn it round 90 degrees and have a simple apex and slope on the north-south aspect with a small overhang at the back and a generous overhang to shelter the front.

So, after much measuring, sawing, painting, drilling, fixing and fitting, plus heaps of builder buddy’s skill and patience, the teahouse is up standing with just the bare bones of a roof, awaiting the next stage. And back on goes the tarp to protect from Autumn weather!

Take a scrolling view of the teahouse construction so far:

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