This Japanese architect’s fairytale teahouse covered in a grassy facade is topped with a yakisugi-treated timber loft!

Japanese architect and architectural historian Terunobu Fujimori is known for his quirky teahouses and fondness for unusual city structures. His latest tea house transports an elf’s cottage from the pages of a fairytale to the concrete of Tokyo. Featuring grassy facades, timber treated with yakisugi, and a lofty vista point, the teahouse, called Goan, is sightly positioned in front of the new National Stadium of Tokyo where it remained until 5 September 2021 in celebration of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Poking out from the corner of one facade, visitors can crawl through a circular hole, traditionally known as a ‘Nijiriguchi,’ to gain entry to the tea room’s interior. Moving inside, visitors pass through the grassy exterior and are welcomed by an entirely unstained wooden first floor. Functioning as a reinterpretation of ‘Nijiriguchi,’ a small wooden staircase and ladder connects the bottom floor with the upper tea room.

Upstairs, visitors can enjoy a cup of tea and a view of the National Stadium designed by Kengo Kuma. From the outside, the upstairs tearoom inside Goan is visually separated from the first floor with a timber exterior constructed from yakisugi treated wood, a traditional Japanese method of wood preservation. The tea room is swaddled in polished natural wooden panels and furniture, giving the room an air of organic warmth.

Standing as one of eight pavilions that are designed to showcase Japan’s future of urban architecture and art, the Goan Teahouse was installed as part of the city’s Pavilion Tokyo 2021 initiative. The initiative coincided with the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, where six world-renowned Japanese architects and two artists each designed a one-of-a-kind pavilion for fans of the games and city visitors and residents to enjoy.

Designer: Terunobu Fujimori

Plots of grass were used to cover the exterior of Goan, a natural choice for Fujimori. 

Inside, visitors access the upper tearoom via a wooden staircase and ladder, a reinterpretation of ‘nijiriguchi.’

Upstairs, visitors can enjoy a cup of tea and city views inside a room decked out in polished natural wood.

The National Stadium designed by Kengo Kuma is a direct sightline from the upper vista point inside the tearoom. 

Fujimori worked alongside undergraduate architecture students from Ouchida Laboratory to finish Goan. 

Fujimori’s plans for Goan are now on display at the Watarium Art Museum.

The post This Japanese architect’s fairytale teahouse covered in a grassy facade is topped with a yakisugi-treated timber loft! first appeared on Yanko Design.

This DIY flatpack van conversion kit makes it easy to transform your van in a mobile camper overnight!

VanLab creates high-quality, flatpack DIY van conversion kits just like IKEA furniture kits so anyone can turn their van into a mobile camper.

You just finished Nomadland and you’re looking for a way to turn your car into a fully-equipped camper like Fern’s, but getting the job done is no easy feat. It can get costly and knowing which materials are worth splurging on usually requires an expert’s eye. Nowadays it feels like we’re all considering a mobile lifestyle and New Zealand-based company VanLab is making that possible. Turning each of us into expert camper van outfitters, VanLab constructs DIY flatpack van conversion kits à la IKEA so anyone can transform their vans into mobile homes.

Now available for shipping in the US, VanLab’s flatpack van conversion kits require only two electric screwdrivers and can be assembled inside your van between three and six hours, then all that’s left to do is configure the wiring. Like IKEA furniture, VanLab’s conversion kits can be built by anyone; no carpentry experience is necessary. Speaking to the ease of assembly, VanLab founders note, “Absolutely anyone can build this kit. All the holes are pre-drilled and the panels are pre-cut. All you need to do is follow the simple instructions in the manual provided and screw the panels together.” Constructed from Baltic Birch plywood, the wooden panels come pre-finished and are designed to fit together like puzzle pieces so anyone can give rise to their van outfittings with ease.

VanLab’s conversion kit dedicates space in each camper for a full-size bed with integrated storage and an ergonomic kitchen with a countertop or worktop space. Each kit can be customized for your preferred size and spatial needs. For instance, the kitchen can either remain as an open countertop or be outfitted with cut-outs for a sink, cooler, and refrigerator. Since each kit includes all the tools, instructions, wood panels, hinges, screws, door magnets, and hatches necessary to turn your van into a mobile home, you’ll only need to take care of extra amenities like a portable toilet and leisure batteries for things like laptop and smartphone charging.

Designer: VanLab

Each kit can be customized to fit your van’s size and spatial requirements. 

With integrated shelving and storage, VanLab makes van conversion kits to maximize available space in your van!

Each kit comes with pre-finished wooden panels and pre-drilled holes so each piece fits together like a puzzle.

The kits think of everything you might to make your mobile lifestyle feel like home.

The kits come with countertops that can either remain open for extra countertop space or come with pre-cut holes for sinks and refrigerators.

Just like IKEA furniture packs, VanLab’s conversion kits come in flatpack designs.

These single-use shipping containers repurposed into swimming pools will bring your backyard to life!

Rathnam’s company, Modpools essentially converts single-use shipping containers into backyard pools that could be installed underground, aboveground, or anywhere between.

Over the course of this pandemic, we’ve seen everything from prefabricated backyard tiny offices to an outdoor mobile bar and kitchen designed for summer BBQs. With so much of our focus on the environment and the potential of our own backyards, designers are getting creative with sustainability and how they construct these at-home retreats. After transforming disused shipping containers into self-contained home offices, Paul Rathnam, seasoned pandemic backyard renovator, returns to shipping containers, only this time he’s turning them into pools.

Dubbing them “the world’s cardboard boxes,” Rathnam felt inspired to build the pools as a means of giving the discarded shipping containers new purpose and new life to backyards. The shipping containers are purchased by Rathnam after goods are shipped to North America from China since they would otherwise just be discarded and not reused for shipping purposes. Depending on your backyard and its building parameters, Modpools can be customized to fit.

No matter where you live, Modpools can be integrated into your home’s environment. Aware that prospective buyers might mistake the recycled shipping containers for emptied garbage dumpsters, Rathnam says, “The uphill battle with containers is that it looks like a dumpster.” Homeowners can rest assured, however, knowing their new backyard pool wasn’t a public dumpster yesterday. Maintaining a clean and dent-free look, Rathnam’s Modpools are formed from single-use containers that only ship goods such as cellphones, computers, and clothes.

Customizable for your own backyard and its parameters, Modpools can be configured in different geometric shapes to fit the size of your garden or patio, or whatever your configuration may need – indoor or outdoor. The shipping containers can be cut down from their 20-40’ lengths to fit any size or shape needed for your particular backyard configuration.

The temperature of Modpools can be raised to 104-degrees Fahrenheit for colder environments. The Modpools are adjusted and welded about an hour east of Vancouver in Rathnam’s factory so that all the construction happens off-site prior to the pool’s installation. The good news is on-site installation can be finished in a matter of only a day.

Designer: Modpools

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Glass windows can be installed to the side of Modpools for underwater viewing.

Modpools can be installed underground, aboveground, or anywhere in-between.

Modpools can also be cut down in length to fit indoors, shrinking down from a length of 40-feet to 20-feet.

Aboveground Modpools would be a great addition to the heat of the backyard during the summer months, lasting over 30 years.

This greek mythology-inspired Temple built entirely from timber was designed to be burned at Burning Man!

The Temple to Burning Man is like Apple to Silicon Valley–it’s what it’s known for. At Burning Man, a nine-day desert gathering, the Temple is burned to the ground in total silence on the eighth and final night. While the Temple functions as a non-denominational, spiritual gathering space for Burning Man’s attendees, it represents a blank canvas for people to leave objects and words behind to be burned. Fernando Romero Enterprise (FR-EE), a New York and Mexico City-based architecture firm, revealed Holon Temple, an all-timber, spherical structure that’s designed to be burned.

The timber structure features interior replica altars with surrounding steps/stairs where festival-goers can reflect and meditate before the Temple burns to the ground. Each year, a new Temple is burned in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, where Burning Man is held and each year, the Temple represents something new. The wooden globe developed by FR-EE was named Holon Temple after Greek philosophy. Holon expresses that something is whole in and of itself as well as a part of a larger whole.

At Burning Man, wooden structures are designed to be burned as part of the festival’s spiritual mission. Describing the inspiration behind Holon Temple, FR-EE notes, “It can be conceived as systems nested within each other. Every entity can be considered a holon, from a subatomic particle to the entire Universe. In the design concept for our proposal, the temple represents itself as the multiverse, a group of nested universes, a holon.” Similar to the grids of latitudinal and longitudinal lines on globes, Holon Temple is built on 48 “latitudinal” trusses and 34 “longitudinal” wooden beams, a number representative of the years Burning Man has existed.

From the outside, Holon Temple really does appear like a globe, a microcosmic model of Earth in the Black Rock Desert. The curvilinear trusses and globular structure of Holon Temple are symbolic of perfect order in the Universe and the Temple stands as a whole in and of itself, in addition to being part of a larger whole. On the eighth night of Burning Man, either the entire Temple or a miniature replica inside of Holon Temple would be burned. As the interior altar burns, the smoke would rise through the Temple’s cluster of compression rings, symbolizing the inevitable return of parts to a whole.

Designer: Fernando Romero Enterprise (FR-EE)



As part of their bid for a spot at Burning Man, the environmental impact and give back had to be calculated.

This personal workstation retracts and unfolds with ease while working from outside!

Working from home sometimes really means working from anywhere we want. Some of us prefer a quiet coffee shop with WiFi, maybe a library or public workspace like WeWork. The rest of us will work just fine beneath a tree in a park. Industrial designer Matan Rechter developed Shelly, a personal outdoor workspace, to create some privacy and shade for the workdays we spend outdoors.

Inspired by the recent global move to working from home, Rechter designed Shelly to create a sense of privacy for concentration and productivity when working in outdoor spaces like public parks. Named after its shell-creating capabilities, Shelly features a canopy that folds in and out. Constructed from aluminum profiles and synthetic Cordura fabric, Shelly is built to protect users and their electronics from UV radiation. Rechter designed Shelly to be convenient and easy to transport, making working outdoors as comfortable and accessible as working from home. The canopy’s folding segments retract and extend like an armadillo’s shell. When users need some shade, Shelly’s bench pops into an upright position and the attached roof unfurls overhead. When packing Shelly away, the roof retracts just as easily as it unfurls and the bench folds into itself for portability.

The WFH movement has brought our laptops and notebooks everywhere but home. Working outdoors in public parks or even our own backyard has become more tempting as each workweek draws on. Rechter designed Shelly as a means for privacy and shaded comfort while we work under the sun, protecting our skin from harsh UV rays and our laptops from overheating.

Designer: Matan Rechter

Shelly retracts and unfolds like an armadillo shell to provide ultimate comfort and protection against the sun.

The workstation’s shell can be pushed back completely with the bench still intact.

Made from aluminum profiles and synthetic Cordura fabric, providing vetted protection against UV radiation.

No matter where you’d like to work, Shelly can provide enough shade and protection to keep you in the zone.

In public parks, Shelly gives provides you with your own private workspace away from the noise.

Olympic Cauldron designed by Nendo “blossoms” open to reveal the eternal fire of the Tokyo Olympics

The cauldron, which was lit on Friday to flag off the Tokyo Olympics, was created on the philosophy of “All gather under the Sun, all are equal, and all receive energy”. Showcased as the centerpiece of the Olympic Opening Ceremony, the ‘kinetic’ cauldron started by first assuming a spherical shape, blooming open to reveal the fire-pit within. The fire was fueled by hydrogen energy too, keeping in line with Japan’s commitment to an eco-friendly Olympics.

Designer: Nendo

The cauldron is the handiwork of Japan-based design studio Nendo, based on an underlying concept by Mansai Nomura, the Chief Executive Creative Director of the planning team for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. The design was arrived at after 85 different iterations, including trapping flames in a heat-resistant glass orb to even a concept with a spinning inferno, designed to look like a spherical sun. The final design uses ten aluminum panels with reflective interiors that open upward and outward, “blooming” to welcome the final torchbearer. “This expresses not only the Sun itself, but also the energy and vitality that can be obtained from it, such as plants sprouting, flowers blooming, and hands opening wide toward the sky”, says Nendo founder Oki Sato.

A distinct feature of the cauldron was its use of Hydrogen fuel, a zero-emissions source of energy. The hydrogen was produced at a facility in Fukushima Prefecture, which is currently undergoing recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred in 2011. Given that Hydrogen burns with a colorless and transparent flame, sodium carbonate was added to it, to give it the unmistakable yellow hue associated with the sun. The sodium carbonate was sprayed into the fire at varying angles, creating that shimmering effect of firewood being stoked.

The overall cauldron measures 3.5 meters (11.4 feet) in diameter when open, and weighs 2.7 tonnes. Each of the 10 aluminum panels weighs a stunning 40 kilograms, and was meticulously cut from a 10 mm thick aluminum plate and molded using a special hot-press machine to eliminate any warping due to heat. The internal drive unit was designed to be as compact as possible, while also being highly waterproof, fireproof, and heat resistant. Mirrors on the inside of the aluminum panels helped ‘multiply’ the effect of the fire by creating shimmering reflections, and the entire installation was repeatedly tested for heat and wind resistance to prevent any error even under highly varying conditions.

At the finale of the opening ceremony on Friday the 23rd, the cauldron was revealed within the Kengo Kuma-designed Tokyo National Stadium, and was lit with the ceremonial fire by Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka.

This spaceship from the 1960s was restored for guests to stay for some Jetsons-inspired staycation!

Nowadays, our gaze is set on outer space. Modern times feel eerily similar to the thrill of the days during the 20th-century Space Race. While the goals of the Space Race change over time, our interest in the starry sky remains. On earth, we watch films like The Jetsons and marvel at Elon Musk’s Starlink, if only because it looks like a moving constellation, just to feel closer to Outer Space. Today, artist Craig Barnes restored a saucer-shaped structure, designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in the late 1960s, calling it Futuro House in his ode to the cosmos.

Landed in Somerset’s Marston Park for guests to rent out, stay the night, and pretend they’ve landed on Mars, the Futuro House is a tiny home can accommodate up to four people and features an array of earthly amenities. Barnes happened upon one of Suuronen’s 68 saucer-shaped structures while out in South Africa, bringing it back to the UK, where he began restoration work.

Easily transportable, Barnes describes how he managed to bring Futuro House to Somerset, “Some workers were knocking down a building nearby and we thought perhaps they were going to tear it down too. It was a wreck, there was no front door left, the windows were smashed in, but they let us in. It was horrible and grotty, but we found out who owned it. On an impulse while on top of Table Mountain, we agreed to buy it. So we bought it and shipped it home.”

Sparing Suuronen’s retrofitted relic from a future spent in obsolescence, Barnes restored Futuro House into a sparkling ski lodge, allowing guests to stay the night for £400–£1,200 ( around $550–$1,412) per night, a rent scale depending on the number of adults staying inside the ship. Inside and outside the saucer, guests can enjoy plenty of onboard amenities, like private bathrooms, fresh linen, and towels, hot water, changeable mood lighting, midrange studio monitor speakers, food services, options for coffee and tea, as well as an outdoor fire pit where guests can sit around and recline into the night. Going on to note his thrill over his own interpretation of today’s Space Race, Barnes says,

“It was always important to me that wherever it goes, it functions as a space to live and experience – an inspiring place that everyone can see. I never wanted this to be something that you cannot touch. I believe in the power of art and architecture and how it affects us. We have never opened [the house] up as a rental before; we hadn’t found the right home for it. At Marston Park, they want to make unique experiences and there is a realm for artworks you can stay in and people are interested in that. It is the fulfillment of a longstanding dream to offer this womb-like structure for people to stay in and be in this otherworldly space.”

Designers: Chris Barnes x Matti Suuronen

Stationed beside a quiet lake amongst the trees of Somerset’s Marston Park, Futuro House appears as a UFO landed for a pitstop.

Inside, the 60s space themes continue with spaceship seating arrangements and oval-shaped windows that wrap the entire circumference of the saucer.

Tulip kitchen seats hearken back to the 60s when the Space Race reached a peak.

While there is only one main sleeping area, four people can stay the night.

Come dark, the spaceship glows into a golden lantern.

While on a midnight stroll in the park, onlookers could even mistake Futuro House for a real UFO.

Stationed against orange night skies, guests can pretend they’ve landed on Mars.

These eco-friendly meeting pods use solar energy to power up charging ports so you bring WFH outdoors!

In recent months, cafes and outdoor workspaces have limited their public amenities to avoid crowding. No more WiFi, the bathrooms are always locked, and time limits for tables are used to control foot traffic. Even still, with pandemic mandates resurfacing, the first taste of bringing our laptops to our favorite cafe to get our work done is hard to kick. Offering their own solution to the unpredictable circumstances of today’s world, furniture studio Duffy London debuted the Minka Solar Pod, an outdoor companion to their indoor office pod.

The Minka Solar Pod operates primarily as an alternative to meeting places and WFH spots like WeWork and cafes with WiFi. Unlike their indoor counterpart, the Minka Solar Pod and its amenities are entirely powered by photovoltaic panels and lithium-ion batteries. Using solar energy for power allows Minka Solar Pods to be placed anywhere, from busy city plazas like Union Square or public grounds like Hyde Park. Designed to be an outdoor working space, Minka Solar Pods come complete with four USB ports for charging and acoustic panels to quiet outdoor noise while amplifying the conversations taking place inside the pod.

Each Minka Solar Pod also accommodates up to four people, which means work meetings that would typically remain indoors could be taken outdoors for some fresh air and a change of scenery. Minka Solar Pods were also built to be weather-resistant, with high-grade walnut and oak veneers finished with powder-coated mild steel. So come drizzle or shine, there’s always an excuse to bring work outdoors. Describing his own inspiration behind the Minka Solar Pod and its indoor companion, Duffy London founder, and director, Chris Duffy says,

“We wanted to design a piece of communal furniture that can meet the needs of the modern working and municipal environment. Indoor or outdoor, our Minka PODs serve as highly adaptable, non-defined spaces that act like mini-hives for human interactions.”

Designer: Duffy London

Clad with powder-coated mild steel, Minka Solar Pods are built to brace the weather.

Minka Solar Pods were initially designed to provide an outdoor workspace for small business meetings or a change of scenery for those of us still working from home.

Outside of work, Minka Solar Pods can function as social meeting hubs for friends and coworkers alike.

Developed in varying structures, Minka Solar Pods embrace the same open-air, collaborative environment.

Each Minka Solar Pod comes equipped with four USB ports and photovoltaic panels to stay powered and charge your devices.

With acoustic panels, Minka Solar Pods quiet the outside noise while amplifying the conversations taking place inside of the pod.

The pod’s high-grade walnut and oak veneers were derived from sustainably sourced forests under the supervision of the Forest Stewardship Council.

This sleeping pod features a smart mattress + a full entertainment system to revolutionize your airport experience!

We’ve all either missed a connecting flight or even our first one and have had to find that somewhat (hardly at all) comfortable spot in the airport where we could kill a few hours before our rescheduled flight. If you haven’t been there–consider this a cautionary tale. While being stuck in an airport is never comfortable, designer KAI XIA developed a Sleep Experience Center, a snoozy oasis where users can kill those hours, otherwise spent sleeping upright in a worn-down, leather waiting chair, in blissful comfort.

Sleep Experience Center is essentially a sleeping and living pod that can be stationed in any setting from an airport to a remote science research center. The pod offers a soundproof place of respite stocked with everything from a full entertainment system to a smart mattress that adjusts to your preferred sleeping conditions. Designed for Keeson Group, Sleep Experience Center took to spaceships and luxury automobiles for inspiration, fusing advanced technology with a contemporary, sleek interior to deliver optimal resting conditions.

The showstopper of the pod is definitely the mattress, boasting integrated smart technology that uses software algorithms and hardware sensors to automatically adapt to each user’s body and ideal sleep settings. The freestanding pod is defined by four separate zones: a sleeping area, entertainment center, storage zone, and control module. If users hope to catch some Z’s or play their favorite video game while waiting for their flight, an automated service offered through WeChat grants them access to the pod. Inside, an operation panel allows users to choose their own (restful) adventure.

Everything from aromatherapeutic lamps to a built-in air filtration system fills out the interior of KAI XIA’s Sleep Experience Center. Atmospheric lighting can be manually adjusted, while the air filtration system runs out of sight underneath the pod’s bed. Inside, users can top off their smartphones with some battery juice and enjoy a quick bite to eat before takeoff.

Designer: KAI XIA

Taking inspiration from spaceships and luxury automobiles, Sleep Experience Center looks sleek and packs a lot of punch.

The Sleeping pod looks right at home in contemporary airports, its optic-white finish blends in with any design.

Here, Sleep Experience Center is positioned in either a mall or airport shopping center.

Inside, Sleep Experience Center would feature everything from a smart mattress, to a full entertainment system.

By signing up through WeChat, users are granted access to the snoozy oasis.

Charging ports and storage areas fill out the inside of Sleep Experience Center.

Designed for any setting, Sleep Experience Center can even be stationed at remote science research centers.

Mood lighting enhances sleeping conditions to ensure a restful getaway.

This moon village plans to harness solar energy to sustain tourism in the future!

In the south polar region of the Moon, architects at SOM–Skidmore, Owings & Merrill have envisioned a Moon Village. In collaboration with ESA–European Space Agency and MIT–Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the debut of Moon Village at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia kicked off an initiative of returning to the Moon five decades after humans first set foot on its surface. Visualized on the rim of the Moon’s Shackleton Crater, the location was chosen with consideration for the near-continuous daylight it receives throughout the lunar year.

Primarily conceived of as a cluster of research stations, Moon Village would host an array of functions spanning from sustainability research opportunities to the future prospect of Moon tourism. The south polar region of the Moon supports the possibility of a self-sufficient settlement, receiving near eternal sunlight that could be harnessed and stored for energy. This part of the Moon also hosts a variety of untouched matter that could offer insight into the Solar System’s early history as well as the general emergence of our larger universe.

Above all else, the structure of each individual hub comprises a modular frame and protective exterior to cater to the varied projects taking place inside. Most of the action would be taking place in each structure’s open centralized space, leaving room for the supportive framework, made from titanium alloy to be built into each building’s perimeter. Describing the structure’s blueprint, the architects at SOM say, “The innovative structural design of the modules is a hybrid rigid-soft system, made of two key elements: a rigid composite perimeter frame and an inflatable structural shell that integrates a multi-layer assembly with an environmental protection system.”

SOM decided on an inflatable shell and rigid, if not a minimal internal framework to easily transport each structure’s building materials by rocket. The combination of a rigid framework and inflatable structural shell, made from open-foam polyurethane and double-aluminized Mylar for insulation, was also chosen by SOM to adapt to internal and external environmental conditions, optimize airflow, and maintain transparent working spaces, while the free centralized volume promotes efficiency and mobility for research projects.

Designer: SOM–Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Located in the south polar region of the Moon, SOM’s Moon Village would harness energy from the sun to generate their research facilities.

Comprising a cluster of Moon Villages, SOM intended for a human-centric design when developing Moon Village.

SOM envisions solar towers to form grids around Shackleton Crater and harness the sunlight’s energy.

Inside, an open centralized volume will leave plenty of room for efficient working and unrestricted mobility.

The main internal structure will be located in the perimeter of each structure.

An external, inflatable structural shell will protect Moon Village hubs from micrometeorites.

The internal framework of Moon Village’s research hubs will ensure the structure’s stability and soundness.

The 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia hosted Moon Village’s model debut.