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Location: Castle Hill

Castle in Cieszyn, the oldest part of the city. The castle hill is home to one of the most valuable monuments in Cieszyn – the Piast Tower and the Rotunda of St. Nicholas and St. Wacław.  The first of these objects is an old defensive tower from the 14th century. It’s almost 30m tall. There are 120 stairs leading to its top, surrounded by a wall with a thickness of more than 3 meters. Originally, its top was built with a roof, but during the 19th century, it gained a viewing terrace visited by numerous tourists to this day. It is the best viewpoint on the Polish and Czech sides of Cieszyn Silesia. The second object is a characteristic, round castle chapel. It dates back to around the 12th century, which makes it one of the oldest architectural monuments in Poland. The Cieszyn Castle (Polish: Zamek Cieszyn) is an institution that has been established in 2005 and has been successfully promoting modern design ever since. This place has become recognisable throughout Europe as a connection between designers, scientists and entrepreneurs. Their joint work allows to design and implement innovative ideas using modern technologies and/or traditional methods.  Educational and promotional projects are carried out in the Castle. 

TASK – to create furniture to tea ceremony  for Leja Teahouse

The traditional tea ceremony takes place in a special pavilion located in the garden. All its elements create an atmosphere of  and symbolise detachment from the outside world and everyday affairs. The ceremony takes place in an atmosphere of dignity and concentration, following strict rules. Arriving guests are greeted by the host with a bow at the gate. Guests enter the garden and here walk around, admiring the plants and stone compositions. All meet together at the garden bench, in order to select a 'chief guest of honour' (shōkyaku). This is the person among the invitees who is regarded as the most respectable and knowledgeable in terms of chakai etiquette. Its role is to take care – together with the host – of the atmosphere of the meeting and to serve the example. Guests pause for a long moment at the spring, where each chanoyu participant, using a wooden scoop, fetches water and washes their hands with it and rinses their mouth. This activity must be performed with concentration -everyone cleanses their body and spirit in a symbolic way.

  • a piece of furniture – its elements should be mobile – enabling the re-arrangement of space (the trailer that the teahouse could transport elements has the maximum width 1.5m)
  • the space of the pavilion/construction should contain a stand for the master of the ceremony who conducts the ceremony and the persons taking part in the ceremony (1+5 persons)
  • the wabi sabi style, the style of Japanese tea pavilions – the coherence of each design element so that the whole forms a coherent whole – the Zen philosophy
  • if possible, it would be ideal to include a water element in the design (whether as a decorative, harmonising element)
  • the best solution would be if the structure was an independent stand during the festival of TEA FESTIVAL (e.g. it would be possible to obtain electricity and running water – e.g. to think about the use of photovoltaic panels in the future … etc.)
  • the tea sea is a wooden stand which is used to brew tea on – in such a way that dripping or pouring water does not disturb it, it simply flows into the pot – this is part of the tea ceremony.
  • if possible, the structure should be roofed and have the possibility to open and close the structure -install the sides – so that the furniture can also be used in the rain
  • a combination of tea tradition with a contemporary touch, freshness of form, simple form referring to the Zen philosophy


The designers wanted to create something traditional with a modern twist, bearing in mind the simple principles of designing Japanese teahouses in the wabi-sabi style, they wanted to bring the user closer to nature and let him enjoy the „refined simplicity” of wooden construction. The resulting structure has a traditional overhanging roof that casts a shadow and gives a pleasant feeling of security. The front wall has a low door that allows the visitor to bow before entering the ceremony site. The pavilion is oriented through the open wall of the nature side to provide users with a calm and soothing view even when other events are taking place in the courtyard. The internal size of the pavilion is based on the size of traditional tatami mats – used traditionally as seats in tea drinking rooms. The closeness to nature, the view of trees and the feeling of touching warm wooden surfaces are intended to soothe and relax users. Designers used one size of larch planks to make the furniture – thanks to which all the elements of the facility constitute a harmonious and coherent whole, emphasizing the natural beauty of wood as a material. 

Student participiants:

Cezary Nagórski, Mikołaj Kałużny, Eszter Fulop, Kristof Kurmai, Magdaléna Pourová, Jadwiga Slaska, Julia Bąk ,Valentina Fesenko, Rania Matrouk, Tamás Forrai

Tutors: Mikołaj Smoleński +Dawid Strebicki

Architects from Poland

Mikołaj Smoleński 

Mikołąj Smoleński Studied in Poland, at the Wrocław Technical University (1996-2002) as well as in Finland at the Oulu University  within the Modern Nordic Architecture program (2000-2001) and in Helsinki doing postgraduate program at the Art and Design School / currently Aalto School, (2002-03).

Within the framework of SOFFT, engages in cooperative, interdisciplinary, low-scale interventions dedicated to public spaces and local communities and takes part in numerous  case-study projects and educational activities.

Partner in CH+architects, together with Agnieszka Chrzanowska, Wojtek Chrzanowski and Grzegorz Kaczmarowski.

Registered member of Polish Architectural Association and Polish Chamber of Architects. Since 2019, a member of Municipal Comitee for Architectural and Urban Planning in Wrocław.

Registered member of Polish Architectural Association and Polish Chamber of Architects. Since 2019, a member of Municipal Comitee for Architectural and Urban Planning in Wrocław.

Dawid Strebicki 

Master of Science – architect and urban planner (member of the Greater Poland Regional Chamber of Architects and the Chamber of Architects in the Netherlands), co-founder of the architectural studio Atelier Starzak Strebicki.

After graduating from TU Delft and many years of work for the design studio architecten de vylder vinck taillieu in Ghent, in 2012 Dawid Strebicki together with Jola Starzak opened the Atelier Starzak Strebicki design studio, carrying out architectural, urban and research projects in Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and Germany. Atelier Starzak Strebicki design studio is fascinated by the diverse scale of design activities: from interiors and single-family houses through public buildings to the scale of urban strategies, masterplans and research. Also intriguing, especially as a research tool, is temporary architecture and experiments in urban fabric.