teamwork with Philipp Brodt


title and map munnar

For the design of a tea plantation and production center, including a concept for visitors and a tree nursery, we wander to the South of India. Munnar is a well known and very picturesque town with vast fields, mountains, and valleys covered with lush tea plantations.

In order to properly plan a production site for tea, one has to fully comprehend how tea is processed and the very precice conditions it needs to produce quality tea. There are eight different production steps involved, each with their own demands for temperature, humidity, sun light, and room space. Depending on which end result one is opting for - be it black, green, white, or oolong tea to name a couple - the freshly plucked leaves go through different stages of these steps. Every tea derives from the very same fresh leave of the camellia sinensis.

Another important aspect that influenced our design and entire concept of the project was to not obscure or intrude the building´s volume in the existing landscape. Furthermore, the site is quite remote and far from any real highways and pathways, except for the little street providing access for transporatation of the tea. Due to this, construction had to be kept reasonable and without the need of complicated infrastructure or machines.

We made use of a natural slope and well within the hills of the tea fields and filled it back up with the production site. The roof, covered with the tree nursery, perfectly camouflages the site.

[TOPOGRAPHY] site plan and connection to existing hiking paths within the hills of the tea plantation


The building fills an existing well within the plantation. The roof is used for the tree nursery and unites each of the production steps beneath it. Visitors can view each production step and space via a higher situated platform.


1 Weighing and collecting the freshly plucked leaves each day
2 Process of Withering
3 Ripping and Curling
4 Oxidation
5 Shaping
6 Drying
7 Grading, Sorting, and Packaging
8 storage


Access to the entire building compound takes place from the south-west through five tunnel-like structures that lead directly from the plantation´s fields up into the higher situated production and courtyard area. Trucks for transportation arrive adverse, from the north-east, on a wider path, surpassing administration and storage.


Each of the production steps are within one designated `box´ underneath the all-enveloping roof tissue. After the leaves are plucked, weighed, and collected, they are passed through all or some of the seven possible production steps, depending on the end result of the desired tea product and type. It is then sorted and stored.


Additionally to the production `cubes´, independant boxes are purposfully arranged to create several different free-flowing outdoor areas. They accomodate the entire administration area, dégustation, staff rooms and recreational spaces, garages for maintenance, technical equipment, labs, and reasearch for the tree nursery.


Courtyards and openings within the roof-structure are strategically placed both for lighting and ambience, as well as to divide the outdoor space into various zones underneath the vast roof structure. Water basins on a horizontal axis provide drainage of the roof. The water is collected and processed as graywater.


Visitors arrive automatically onto a platform as part of the building´s structure via public trails. This terrace runs the length across all of the production steps granting visual access into each of the rooms. Additionally, it offers panoramic views over the hills and valleys of the plantation. Tea tasting and a café is incorporated.


The roof plays a crucial role: it houses the tree nursery, visually blurrs the building´s dimensions and inserts the structure within the landscape, filling the well of the site. The adjacent tea fields seem to continue over the roof, partially hiding the underlying structure and rendering the building unobtrusive within the picturesque landscape.

[FLOOR PLAN] underground level | showing the main access into the production and courtyard area
[FLOOR PLAN] ground level
munnar teaplantation entrance perspective from the fields munnar tea plantation interior perspectives
[PERSPECTIVES] main entrance from the fields | view from tunnel into the fields | visitors terrace with view into the first production hall
munnar tea plantation sections

Each of the production steps has one designated room with different sizes depending on their expanse. This parcelling makes it possible to control the climate of each of the steps according to the tea that is produced. Once it has gone through all of the neccessary steps, it will be sorted, weighed, documented and then securely stored in a large storage space as the last step in the production. From there it waits to be picked up by transportation.

The roof is a so-called "Hebelstabwerk" that consists of a simple wooden beam system. The pattern it creates due to a primary and secondary layer generates a nice room atmosphere. The grid that is created is in a way even a reminder of the Indian culture for ornament and patterns. It is also the basis for the roof´s tree nursery. An intricate system of water basins along paths enable the little trees to grow until they are planted in the surrounding fields. The tubs are constructed in a way that there is always enough water to eliminate any overdrying of the fragile plants, but that it never rises too high to prevent any rotting of the roots.

Any elemnts that are in direct contact with the earth, especially the side walls, which need to be strong enough to withstand the mass of adjacent earht of the fields, are concrete, while the rest of the structure is purely from local woods. The system of wood beams and panels can easily be transportant to the site and then assembled in a quick and easy manner.

[SECTIONS] cross section showing leaf and water basins | cross section showing the access system | longitudinal section showing production
munnar tea plantation construction details
[CONSTRUCTION DETAILS] cross and longitudinal section in detail