drawing architecture studio has transformed this two-bedroom apartment in a beijing neighborhood with one additional and unusual feature. the chinese firm has turned its small balcony into an extension of the apartment, giving it the look and feel of a cozy japanese teahouse.

drawing architecture studio transforms apartment balcony into japanese teahouse free balcony an



the tea house adopts a curved roof with an eave that has been extended to meet a narrow opening above the original breast board of the balcony. the studio used the narrow opening as a horizontal window, choosing subdivided lattices to create an illusion of scale. a roof window is situated above the horizontal window, which becomes the façade of the japanese tea house while the original breast board becomes its base. 

drawing architecture studio transforms apartment balcony into japanese teahouse free balcony an



drawing architecture studio was influenced by terunobu fujimori, a japanese architect who is widely known for his ‘floating teahouses’. built atop trees or suspended in the air via some other mechanism, these surrealist structures play with the traditional elements of a tea house while offering elevated views of their surroundings.

drawing architecture studio transforms apartment balcony into japanese teahouse free balcony an



inside, the floor of the tearoom is raised up and the door beam is lowered, forcing its entrants to crawl into the space. the architects removed the original walls from the rest of the space, similarly dividing it into small enclosed rooms.

drawing architecture studio transforms apartment balcony into japanese teahouse free balcony an



‘what is used for division of the interior space is not wall but cabinet,’ drawing architecture studio explains. ‘the partition be-tween the bedroom and living room is for clothes and that between entrance and study is for books. making the storage as the wall does not only increase the efficiency but also create a thickness for the wall that can only be seen in classical architecture.’


symmetrical plan was used in many parts of the design. the kitchen cabinet, island, din-ing table, and sideboards form an axis.’

drawing architecture studio transforms apartment balcony into japanese teahouse



‘the main balcony, stool, and balcony doorway are designed as another set of symmetry. the big window is equally divided by an array of dense vertical lines with openings on the two ends. the strong symmetrical arrangement makes adds a sense of ritual to the space for daily life.’


inspired by european theorist of modern architecture adolf loos, the studio has integrated material, decoration, and space into one. the interior of the japanese teahouse is characterized by its use of oak, painted boards, veneer, marble, red copper, rippled glass, mosaic, and diatom mud. it also features classical elements like wainscots and chair rails.

drawing architecture studio transforms apartment balcony into japanese teahouse free balcony an



‘in architecture, there are no strict boundaries between the past and future, the classics and modern, the local and exotic,’ the studio adds. ‘by referring to the classical space and traditional jap-anese-style room, we hoped to explore the form of contemporary living space and to create a unique beijing style for the local residential balcony. to us, returning to the classics is to approach the future; and depicting the exotic is to develop the local.’




project info


architecture firm: drawing architecture studio
location: beijing, china
design / construction: 2018
constrution area: 90 sqm
design team: li han / hu yan / zhang xintong / ji jiawei / sang yu / zhang yuanbo
photography: xia zhi