A Tea House for the Humboldt Forum

6 min read

The word Bôki literally means “to forget the affairs of daily life”. It served as the motto – and also as the name – of a tea room installed in the Museum für ostasiastische Kunst in Dahlem in October of the year 2000.
From 2005 onwards, tea ceremonies were held regularly at Bôki which gave people the opportunity to come together and forget their everyday cares by just concentrating on the ritual preparation and subsequent enjoyment of the tea, as well as to appreciate the practical and highly aesthetic utensils and room decoration.

This popular tradition of tea ceremonies continues in the Humboldt Forum. The Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss in coordination with the Museum für Asiatische Kunst had launched a competition. The winning design for a new tea house by the URA architects from Kanazawa in Japan is now being implemented.

A combination of German and Japanese culture

The sculptural architecture of the teahouse combines tradition and modernity as well as references to Japanese and German culture. The form and materials of the tea house will be used to sensitively create local references: The roof and external walls of Corten steel echo the octagonal form of the ruins of the tower of Berlin’s Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche, which was destroyed in World War II; the ruined tower serves as a peace memorial for the city. The interior walls of the main room, the size of which correspond to eight traditional Kyoto rice straw mats, will be partially realized with European clay.


Overall, the tea house consists of the main tea room, as well as a smaller preparation room. The tea room will be equipped with a ro, a traditional Japanese sunken fireplace, as well as a niche, known as a tokonama. With its exceptional works of Japanese painting and graphic art, as well as ceramic and lacquer works, the tea house will allow visitors to experience the culture of the traditional Japanese Way of Tea.

The way to the Humboldt Forum

The team around the architects from Kanazawa developed the tea house in close coordination with the Chado Urasenke Teeweg-Verein in Berlin. In November 2019, Japanese craftsmen began building the tea house in the Humboldt Forum. From 2021, the traditional tea ceremonies in the collection of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst will be on display in the exhibition module on Japanese art in the west wing of the third upper floor of the Humboldt Forum.