When designing a building, it must be taken into account its function as well as its context and landscape implementation. In the case of a winery, its construction and the wine elaboration that will occur inside it, are both related to the experience of the earth.
“Wine is smell, colour, taste, body and essence of grapes. These senses and perceptions have to go along with a place able to emphasize this process of transformation”
These facts have been the starting point for the Spanish architects Víctor Rahola and Jorge Vidal to face the refurbishment project of Mont-Ras Winery. Located in the Catalonian region of Bajo Ampurdán, the result is an architecture totally integrated in the landscape whose design is based in four main aspects.
The extension project is not only aimed to provide new installations for the wine production but also to create a connection to the pre-existent masía; the country house origin of the exploitation. Following these premises, the new winery programme is developed in four elongated naves. Four parallel and diaphanous wings separated by intermediate spaces –enclosing technic and storage facilities- and interconnected by successive sliding doors.
Each of these naves contains a specific part of the programme related to the different phases of production and conservation of wine. The first wing is dedicated to the tools storage, labs, bottling areas and the refrigerating chamber. The second one contains the grape juice maceration vats, while the barrels where the wine stays long periods of time, as well as the resting bottles, are housed in the third one. At last, the fourth nave corresponds to the tastings, enjoyment and storage of the bottles that are ready to be open. This latter space is directly connected to the masía through an excavated gallery that acts like a linking tunnel.
Taking advantage of the site natural inclination, Mont-Ras Winery is introduced directly to the land. The earth is a malleable material that, through subtraction, can build space. Thanks to its great thermal inertia and humidity, the earth also allows to maintain the ideal temperature and conditions to the wine conservation in a natural way. On the other hand, the roof of the new buried winery establishes a platform on which the masía is situated, thus creating a continuous plane that links the two architectural elements of the assembly.
The space deepness is the sound absorption, emptiness and shadow. At Mont-Ras Winery, the light organises the space in a gradient that goes from lightness to darkness and vice versa. A series of skylights allows the introduction of zenithal sunlight along the winery despite of being an underground architecture.
The constructive technics used for the winery construction are aimed to optimize efforts as well as the space organization and the winery design itself. Thus, a series of concrete vaults – that draw a section of hyperbolic arches- shaped the naves and offload the green roof weight. Furthermore, the perimeter retaining walls are materialised as vertical brick vaults, which respond to the best geometry to transmit the earth compression stresses.
In accordance with this architectural coherence, the naked constructive materials, along with wooden closings, compose also the aesthetic character of Mont-Ras winery. Large hollow bricks are used to create built-in wine bottles exhibitors integrated in the winery architecture, while the façade to the vineyard is made of great wooden sliding doors and pivoting windows that enable the entrance of light and air.
Photos by José Hevia