NAO transforms a historical Georgian ruin into a traditional Japanese teahouse

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NAO, a design studio based in Tbilisi, has recently undertaken a unique project that combines Japanese and Georgian cultures. The studio has transformed a historical Georgian ruin into a Japanese teahouse, merging the distinct charms of both cultures into one extraordinary space. Named Teahouse 5.8, the structure has retained much of its original character, including its signature 5.8-degree lateral tilt.

The design process involved a collaborative workshop, where local Georgian architecture students and emerging architects came together to brainstorm ideas for incorporating Japanese cultural elements while preserving the traditional Georgian environment. The goal was to create a space that honored both cultures and appealed to enthusiasts of both Japanese and Georgian aesthetics.

To preserve the historic charm of the structure, minimal interventions were made. However, a horizontal level was inserted and layered with cement by local workers, paying homage to both Georgian history and Japanese minimalism aesthetics. Sustainability was also a key consideration, with recycled materials from the demolition process being used for the sub-floor, sub-wall, and sub-ceiling.

The interior of the teahouse features tatami floor mats imported directly from Japan, adding an authentic touch to the space. The existing exterior of the structure was retained, further emphasizing the fusion of Japanese and Georgian aesthetics. LED strip lights were strategically placed to highlight the existing old brick wall, adding a contemporary touch to the traditional elements.

Teahouse 5.8 stands as a testament to the power of cultural exchange and the ability to bring diverse traditions together harmoniously. By introducing a Japanese cultural icon into the heart of old Tbilisi, NAO has created a space that celebrates both the history and the future of two distinct cultures. The project showcases the studio’s commitment to preserving historical architecture while breathing new life into forgotten spaces.

Located in Tbilisi, Georgia, Teahouse 5.8 is a true testament to the power of design in bridging cultural gaps and celebrating the richness of global heritage. The project was led by NAO, with Nao Tokuda serving as the lead designer. Collaborating with local Georgian architecture students and young architects, the project showcases the talents of emerging professionals in the field.

As part of the DIY submissions feature by designboom, Teahouse 5.8 has garnered attention for its innovative approach to cultural exchange and preservation. The project serves as an inspiration for designers and architects alike, reminding us of the transformative power of design in connecting cultures and creating meaningful spaces.

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