Via the development of bespoke slip-cast ceramic cups and architecturally stacking cup-components, The Manhattan Tea House is a conceptual proposal for a tea shop, factory, cafe, pavilion, landscaped gardens and piers, on a waterfront site in Battery Park, Lower Manhattan.
The Tea House builds on America’s tea history and reinvigorates the New York waterfront. The contoured landscape links the Battery gardens to the Cafe, Tea House, and Tea Pavilion and new piers. The factory, including tea warehouse, blending and flavouring rooms and tea archive, is spread across all four floors of the primary building, linking with the public tea shop, tasting bar, formal tea rooms and rooftop terrace.
The building unites tea drinking and production within an undulating envelope of stacked ceramic cup components.
The cups have been developed through a process of making and experimentation. Firstly, an existing cup was slip cast with a 6-part plaster mood to create multiple variations on the same form. Secondly, a bespoke design was developed, with foam molds milled out using CNC, plaster molds then cast from the foam, and finally porcelain slip-casts made from the dry plaster molds, and given a translucent glaze. A third stage halved the scale of the cups for mold-making, stoneware slip-casting and glazing, in order to test tessellation and stacking.
Finally, the design advanced to develop a series of interlocking cup-blocks, from the single cup, to a double cup, to a triple cup. The glazed slip-cast ceramic pieces create a stackable wall system, as iterations of the single, hand-held tea cup.