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INTERVIEW

Gerhard Feldbacher Returns to Salzburg Global with Mobile Tea House

Salzburg Global Fellow explains inspiration behind new project and his future plans for it

Feldbacher (right) taking part in a tea ceremony with the fellows of the fourth YCI forum in the flying tea house. Photo by Heinz Holzmann

Feldbacher (right) taking part in a tea ceremony with the fellows of the fourth YCI forum in the flying tea house. Photo by Heinz Holzmann

Mirva Villa | 28.11.2017

For three years, Gerhard Feldbacher had been playing with the idea of a mobile tea house. The simple, geometric shapes and lightness of traditional Japanese houses had fascinated the Austrian designer and architect for a long time.

The final push to make the project a reality came after Feldbacher offered to finish the tea house to be used at the fourth session of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators.
Feldbacher attended the YCI Forum the previous year and had an “intense” experience.

“I thought [the mobile tea house] would be nice as a communication place,” Feldbacher says. “By offering it to Salzburg Global, I wanted also to oblige myself to finally do it.”

The tea house consists of white paper walls, woven tatami mats and a fireplace. The sunken hearth is the focal point of the house. Above the fire, the teapot is hung from a jizaikagi - a small hook adorned with a fish sculpture.

Feldbacher ordered the jizaikagi from an antique shop in Tokyo. It’s thought to be more than a century old. The fish and blue fireplace tiles symbolize water and are meant to protect the paper house from catching fire.

The flying tea house can be put together in a matter of hours, and it is light for a house, weighing less than 300 kilograms. The lightness was another aspect that interested the architect. “I made another mobile house some years ago which is 10,000 kilograms,” Feldbacher says. “Three hundred kilograms is nothing compared to that.”
Once Feldbacher had his mind set on making the tea house, it took three months to complete. The architect had expected the delicate paper walls to require the most work, but the roof ended up being the most difficult part to build. He says, “It had to be stable, but also very light because the whole thing sits on a trailer.”

During the fourth session of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, several participants used the tea house as a meeting place to work on their projects. One group stayed so long, Feldbacher had to politely ask them to leave at the end of the day.

“I had to actually kick them out of the tea house because I had to cover it for the night, so that was a nice compliment,” Feldbacher laughs.

One of the participants from Japan held a traditional tea ceremony in the tea house, which other YCI participants attended.

In addition to Schloss Leopoldskron, the flying tea house has also appeared at the Hallein-based arts festival Schmiede.

Feldbacher is looking forward to seeing what else the tea house will be used for in the future, whether that’s as a stage for performances or a place to stay for travelers.

In the immediate future, the tea house will travel the Salzkammergut region in the spring and feature at street art festivals in the summer.

To improve the tea ceremony experience, Feldbacher plans to make binchō-tan, a type of hardwood charcoal. He says, “It’s visually very nice and difficult to get here in Europe. I want to do that coal by myself as a part of the ceremony.”


The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators IV is part of a ten-year multi-year series. This year's program is supported by the Albanian-American Development Foundation, American Express, Arts Council Malta, Cambodian Living Arts, Canada Council for the Arts, Edward T. Cone Foundation, Fulbright Greece, Japan Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Adena and David Testa, and the U.S. Embassy Valetta, Malta. More information on the session can be found here. More information on the series can be found here. You can follow all the discussions on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by using the hashtag #SGSyci.

28.11.2017 Category: SALZBURG IN THE WORLD, SALZBURG UPDATES, YCI
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