Last summer, when Tokyo-based Kengo Kuma & Associates received a commission for a 43-story skyscraper in downtown Vancouver, the firm also embarked on a much smaller project for its developer, Ian Gillespie: a tea house. Instead of having the typical garden setting, the 140-square-foot structure sits on a 19th-floor terrace of a residential high-rise owned by Gillespie’s company, Westbank. Gillespie, who has an affinity for Japanese culture, wanted a space where he could entertain while showcasing a cross-cultural collaboration. The design incorporates tradition into a contemporary scheme, says project architect Michael Sypkens: it maintains the conventional tea house veranda, floor plan, and extended eaves—here framing views of the harbor and another Gillespie-owned tower—but features floor-to-ceiling glazing, full insulation, and a painted-aluminum roof. In lieu of customary Japanese cedar for the lattice screens, Kuma opted for local Douglas fir; the moss and stones used for landscaping are also native to the region. “The tea house is a transition from a dense urban environment to this almost spiritual realm,” says Sypkens. “It is a surreal hybridization.”