Fata Morgana Teahouse – Cambridge, England - Atlas Obscura

Fata Morgana Teahouse

The design of this seemingly translucent two-story tower in northwest Cambridge was inspired by an optical illusion. 


Given the demand on housing for staff and students in the city of Cambridge, the University of Cambridge in the 2010s began the process of building a new community with homes, shops, and other amenities on farmland to the northwest of the city center. This project is called the North West Cambridge Development, and the new neighborhood created by the project has been named Eddington (after the Cambridge astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington, whose work helped to prove the theory of general relativity).

This new development has included the creation and installation of several new public artworks, and perhaps the most unusual of these is a two-story tower that was created by the artists Wolfgang Winter and Berthold Hörbelt and that has been named the Fata Morgana Teahouse. The name is derived from a type of mirage called a Fata Morgana, where objects on the distant horizon may appear above the horizon (for example, boats may appear to hover in the air) or may appear stretched out (for example, mountains may appear columnar and elongated). The design of the Fata Morgana Teahouse is certainly comparable to this optical phenomenon. 

The structure has curved walls that rise straight up from the ground, giving it the same shape as its namesake. Additionally, the walls of the structure are made of a steel mesh that makes the tower seem silvery-gray yet translucent from a distance, giving it the appearance of being somehow illusory. Inside, two curved stairways lead up to the upper level, which features a pair of curved benches as well as nice views of the waterfowl in the nearby pond.

The Fata Morgana Teahouse has become one of the emblems of the new neighborhood of Eddington and is often featured in Eddington’s publicity and promotional material. Even so, the tower is still a nice, quiet, peaceful place to stop and relax while visiting the park outside the housing development.

Know Before You Go

The Fata Morgana Teahouse is located in a park named Brook Leys to the west of Eddington. This park is open to the general public 24 hours a day. The tower can be accessed by following the dirt path that loops around the pond in this park, and while the park path leading to the Fata Morgana Teahouse is generally flat, the passage through the structure may be too narrow for some wheelchairs, and the top floor of the structure is only accessible via stairs.

Brook Leys is within a 40-minute walk of the center of Cambridge and can easily be reached by bicycle as well.  Bus services regularly travel through Eddington as well as past the new neighborhood.  Parking is available in several locations within the area.

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