Cantina Antinori Winery
The Antinori winery in Bargino, designed by Archea Associati, lies in the hilly wine country around Chianti, halfway between Florence and Siena. Wineries play an important part in local social and cultural life and one of the express aims of this project was to make the most of this setting, creating a building that was not only part of the physical surrounds, but also hard to differentiate from them.
Halfway between Florence and Siena, in the hilly and curvy landscape of Classical Chianti, the new Antinori winery is a spectacular and audacious creation even though it is nearly invisible because completely underground. The sign of this powerful work is visible outside only through two long horizontal cuts that let the light flow in and frame some views on the Tuscan countryside. The works have begun with the excavation 15 metres deep of a hill before building up on 45 000 square metres in the bowels of earth the new headquarters and the new winery of the Antinori family company. The family has been carrying on the tradition of excellence in wines since 1385 and has been strongly involved in the project.
This is a unique work of architecture that is completely merging with the surrounding landscape. In fact the underground “building” has been coated with a new earth surface covered by vineyards. In this way the Antinori family is strongly reasserting its connection with the territory. The project completed in eight years, is a perfect metaphor of wine that draws its excellence from the earth. It is a space also planned to welcome visitors in the museum, the restaurant, the shop and the bookshop and to share with them the culture of wine.
- The whole project started in 2005 and designed by the Florence architect Marco Casamonti, is based on the concept of a building so intimately linked to Nature that it goes close to symbiosis between architecture and landscape. Also in this view the designer has opted for natural and Tuscan materials: the terracotta used for the vaults of the wine-cellar itself, stone and corten steel. This material largely used has enabled to create a chromatic and sensorial harmony of the internal spaces with the surrounding nature.
- The vast circular holes opened on the surface to bring in light and air, have been covered with corten steel as well as the imposing helical staircase in the entrance hall. The same material has been chosen for the external doors with thermal break built with the EBE 85 system by Secco Sistemi and to cover the internal doors. A large use of corten provided by the Infinities system by Secco Sistemi, has also been made to build specific furniture set up in the numerous public spaces and perfectly tuned with the environment.
The hearth of Antinori’s production will move to this new winery in Bargino (San Casciano Val di Pesa), a foothills area running along the Firenze-Siena highway. The intervention will be massive in terms of dimensions. The overall visual result will be minimal thanks to choice of embedding the building underground and leaving only 2 ‘cuts’ following the soil profile in the hillside. The building consists of 7 blocks of different height and dimensions, a road connecting the building to the Cassia highway and a further one that connects the lowest level to the highest one.
It is therefore clear that the project could not be understood as the construction of a new headquarters or the realization of a new Palazzo Antinori or a new brick fortress that still evoked an unnecessary urbanity; rather, it should consist of an architectural interpretation of an extraordinary landscape: the Classical Chianti. Not a building, therefore, but a part of the land; not offices and a factory housed by a more or less conspicuous building, but rather the desire that the customer has transmitted to the authors of the architectural project to find a new way to inhabit and live in the earth, true to a tradition that understands the concept of “wine cellar” as something more than a name deriving from a custom: as the toponym of a place that owes its vital and productive energy precisely to the earth. Adopting this approach, architecture – by interpreting nature as a source of energy, as essence of the landscape, soul of the place and thus of human activity – recognizes, through its consummation, the primacy of natural resources and thus of the environment as cause and purpose of every action and every conception.
The result is an absence of conflict between building and nature, which has been replaced by a shared goal that contributes to the realization of one all-embracing intention, namely to inhabit the earth in harmony with the surroundings by acting in a way that strives for comprehension rather than mimesis, for a possible coexistence between what we have inherited and what we must do to deserve it rather than the intransigence of renunciation.
- The container had to express the essence of the “content”: a product that is born and develops from the land as synthesis of a work, a tradition, a culture that is profoundly connected to the agrarian landscape and the natural environment. The image and substance of the new winery evokes this indissoluble, intimate and radical bond with the territory, to the point of being concealed by, and merging with, the land.
- The conceptual construction has taken the form of a “volume” that is built completely below ground, that by concealing all the elements that are usually part of urban constructions, attempts to achieve a difficult but necessary reconcilement between natural and artificial.
- The result is a new earth surface covered by vineyards, marked by two horizontal cuts that, following the curves of the hilly land, rise to allow light to enter, and to offer a view of the surrounding scenery.
- The “façade” of the building, that extends horizontally on the slope, is therefore designed by the rows designing the roof and by the very thing fissures that reveal, without flaunting, the “heart”: the rhythmic sequence of the underground vaults that store, in darkness, the product during its time-consuming preparation. Far from a mimetic and renouncing attitude, this work features the physical denotations and historical connotations of the very idea of wine-cellar, suggesting the conditions for an ideal interpretation of functional roles and expressive possibilities.
The totally embedded structure required the prior realization of diaphragms and rods to support 20 m max. depth excavations. Deep foundations are realized by means of 18 m length CFA piles. The vertical structure of the winery is made of precast frames stiffened by r.c. walls, the roof of which will be covered with a vineyard. The realization of a flat bottom surface was seriously considered in a careful study of the connections between precast pillars and beams and between beams and precast slabs.
The covering of the buildings’ façades foresees the realization of 24 m maximum length steel cantilevers consisting of 5.25 m interaxis, 40 to 210 cm variable height, welded corten-steel beams. Beams are covered with a terracotta-tiles false ceiling. The external deck slab is a two-way 11 to 30 m variable span, and is lightened by the insertion of disposable superstructures between upper and lower reinforcement, during casting phase. The inner part of the winery consists of a steel-vault system with terracottatile covering intended for wine fermentation room and barrel room, and can be accessed through corten-steel paths that moreover provide the visitor with a bird-eye view of the system.
The underground road network connecting the different levels of the winery is realized by means of pigmented and fare-face r.c. walls. Such fare-face wallsystem is peculiar of the winery and can be found along all external paths. Two 30×30 sqm totally underground areas are intended for trucks maneuvering areas and have a welded cortensteel beam structure covering.
The site is surrounded by the unique hills of Chianti, covered with vineyards, half-way between Florence and Siena. A cultured and illuminated customer has made it possible to pursue, through architecture, the enhancement of the landscape and the surroundings as expression of the cultural and social valence of the place where wine is produced. The functional aspects have therefore become an essential part of a design itinerary which centres on the geo-morphological experimentation of a building understood as the most authentic expression of a desired symbiosis and merger between anthropic culture, the work of man, his work environment and the natural environment.
The physical and intellectual construction of the winery pivots on the profound and deep-rooted ties with the land, a relationship which is so intense and suffered (also in terms of economic investment) as to make the architectural image conceal itself and blend into it. The purpose of the project has therefore been to merge the building and the rural landscape; the industrial complex appears to be a part of the latter thanks to the roof, which has been turned into a plot of farmland cultivated with vines, interrupted, along the contour lines, by two horizontal cuts which let light into the interior and provide those inside the building with a view of the landscape through the imaginary construction of a diorama.
The façade, to use an expression typical of buildings, therefore extends horizontally along the natural slope, paced by the rows of vines which, along with the earth, form its “roof cover”. The openings or cuts discreetly reveal the underground interior: the office areas, organized like a belvedere above the barricade, and the areas where the wine is produced are arranged along the lower, and the bottling and storage areas along the upper. The secluded heart of the winery, where the wine matures in barrels, conveys, with its darkness and the rhythmic sequence of the terracotta vaults, the sacral dimension of a space which is hidden, not because of any desire to keep it out of sight but to guarantee the ideal thermo-hygrometric conditions for the slow maturing of the product. A reading of the architectural section of the building reveals that the altimetrical arrangement follows both the production process of the grapes which descend (as if by gravity) – from the point of arrival, to the fermentation tanks to the underground barrel vault – and that of the visitors who on the contrary ascend from the parking area to the winery and the vineyards, through the production and display areas with the press, the area where vinsanto is aged, to finally reach the restaurant and the floor hosting the auditorium, the museum, the library, the wine tasting areas and the sales outlet.
The offices, the administrative areas and executive offices, located on the upper level, are paced by a sequence of internal court illuminated by circular holes scattered across the vineyard-roof. This system also serves to provide light for the guesthouse and the caretaker’s dwelling. The materials and technologies evoke the local tradition with simplicity, coherently expressing the theme of studied naturalness, both in the use of terracotta and in the advisability of using the energy produced naturally by the earth to cool and insulate the winery, creating the ideal climatic conditions for the production of wine.
The project and the resulting construction, seen in the light of these aims, give us a wholly new confidence in the people behind this process of transformation of the land, because they show the way to a new equilibrium between the need to protect the existing heritage, natural or historicalarchitectural, and the needs of a society that is forming its own ideas and meeting its own requirements through conscious, or sustainable, actions. As demonstrated by the design of the new Antinori Winery in the Classic Chianti, the evident intention to harmonize with the surroundings highlights our responsibility to protect and enrich sites by an ability to analyse and read them in relation to the use, dimension, consistency and thus impact of the project.
This aim can, obviously, only be attained with an intellectual maturity that is not only required from the architects but above all from the customer who, understanding the ethical implications of building activities, does not aim for the highest possible bottom-line profit but thinks in terms of a more complex economic formula that takes into account the consumption of land, energy savings, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the value of the work of architecture in terms of image, the real estate value associated with constructions built to last in time. Only in these terms is it possible to explain the willingness and desire to realize a project that has called for the construction of more than five hundred metres of underground streets, parking areas for cars and goods transport vehicles, completely hidden from sight, of thousands of square metres of areas for handling, unloading and loading of goods, more than fifteen metres below the original level of the hill; the construction of technological systems ranging from heating plant to cooling towers, wholly invisible; the building of a roof over the whole built surface that is covered by a layer of earth, from fifty centimetres to more than three metres thick, to make it possible to plant new vineyards and reduce consumption of the land to a minimum.
- The project has been characterized by the use of natural materials, terracotta and Corten steel, as well as concrete dyed in earth colours; the slope has been exploited – and this is obviously a more expensive and complex solution for a manufacturing plant – to move the product by gravity (without using pumps and thus energy) through the phases of fermentation and maturation; moreover, the energy or in other words the coolness produced naturally in the depths of the earth has been used to control the temperature inside the large vaulted spaces housing wine barrels and vats; thick and heavy layers of natural earth have been used in place of more recent materials as thermal insulation of every room; finally, large projections have been built to shade the indispensable glazed fronts – designed not only to bring light inside the building but above all to establish a direct contact between the vineyards and the landscape and the parts of the winery that are inhabited or accessible to the public – from the sun.
Project name: Cantina Antinori Winery
Location: Bargino, San Casciano Val di pesa, Florence, Italy
Coordinates: 43.612745, 11.193606
Specific Use of Building: Winery – Office
Materials: Cor-ten steel
Site Area: 13 ha
Project Area: 49,000 sqm
Volume: 287,260 cu. m
Project Year: 2004-2012
Cost: € 67.000.000
Completion Year: 2012
Client / Owner / Developer: Marchesi Antinori srl
Architects: Archea Associati – Lungarno Benvenuto Cellini, 13 50125 Florence, Italy
Artistic Supervision: Marco Casamonti
Artistic Direction Assistant: Francesco Giordani
System: Stefano Mignani, Paolo Bonacorsi – M&E S.r.l.
Oenological Systems: Stefano Venturi – Emex Engineering
Engineering: Paolo Giustiniani – Hydea S.r.l.
Structure: Massimo Toni – AEI progetti S.r.l.
Plant: Emex Engineering, Marchesi Antinori
Plant: M&E Management & Engineering
Text Description: © Courtesy of Archea Associati, Secco Sistemi
Images: © Archea Associati, Secco Sistemi, Pietro Savorelli, Leonardo Finotti
Materials & Suplier:
Glazed Walls and Furniture: Methis Terracotta
Elements: Sannini Impruneta Stone
Surface Finishes: Santafiora
Sliding Panels in Exhibition Hall: Scrigno Raised
Flooring: Teknofloor Office
Chairs: Castelli Building
Adhesives, Sealants, and Chemicals: Mapei
Doors and Office Furniture: Secco Sistemi