Meet The Building of the Year 2018: Herdade do Freixo Wine Cellar – Herdade do Freixo has an outstanding wine cellar you definitely must visit. Hidden in the underground, one can barely distinguish it on the large plain of Redondo, in Portugal. Last week, the project was chosen by the ArchDaily readers for Building of the Year 2018 in the category of Industrial Architecture, after receiving an honourable mention at the FAD Awards 2017 and a nomination at the Construir Awards 2017.
By the end of 2016, the Portuguese newspaper Público was already writing that “the winery of the Herdade do Freixo is very large. And yet, when you look around, the landscape of Alentejo extends as far as the eye can see, but with no sign of the wine cellar on sight”, except for one or two “discrete” openings. But as time passes for this “Guggenheim winery”, the vines planted above it will grow and not even these openings “will be visible”. Two weeks ago, Fernando Valsassina, the architect who designed the project, returned to the site and realized exactly that. Besides some typical chimneys that rise above the vineyard, and which are responsible for its ventilation, it’s hard to tell there is a wine cellar with a spiral that unrolls until 40 metres deep.
“It is a common discussion today, the denial of the architecture. To perform an intervention on the site without the appearance that there was architecture involved”, says Valsassina, who won the international competition launched by the Herdade do Freixo several years ago. He recalls the owners had the intention to build a wine cellar to complement “the great investment they were doing in the vineyard”, but which also integrated with the village, that was the “continuation of the landscape itself”. The winery was designed to make the most of the characteristics of the grapes as well as to keep the rural landscape untouched. It is designed to a stringent technical and creative brief and is deliberately discreet and unobtrusive. It is secondary to the vines and the 1,000 hectares of pure Alentejo land that surround it.
And so it was. If at the beginning they didn’t think of completely burying it, soon the project advanced in that direction. After a year of works, an almost invisible winery submerged, made with only one material (thixotropic cement) with the colour of the land that covers it. Inside, there are two routes — one for workers and one for visitors — in a “round” building remarkably accessible. It was built completely underground, three storeys below the vines and its architecture is bold and unusual. It meets the brief of not outshining the sources of inspiration for this project, which are the vines and the terroir. The cellar’s design also reduces the temperature range throughout the year, providing a stable temperature, which is ideal for the proper development of the wines and retains their freshness and balance. The design also took into account the potential of the grapes and respect for the wine during the fermentation stage and no pumps are used throughout the process. It makes use of gravity throughout the production process. This concept is unique in Europe and will be open to visitors soon.
As for the prize itself, Frederico Valsassina was “hopeful”. He says it is a “more interesting and comprehensive” distinction than many others, precisely because it is a vote from the readers. According to the Portal da Arquitectura, almost 100,000 votes were received in the last two weeks for the Building of the Year ArchDaily Awards 2018, which helped to elect the 15 best works presented in the Portal da Arquitectura in 2017. Among the winners, one can find distinguished firms like Foster + Partners, with an Apple store in Chicago, and the OMA, by Rem Koolhaas, with an office building in the Hague, but also some unknown heroes, as is the case of the project of the Emergency Architecture & Human Rights workshop, with classrooms for refugee children in Za’atari, in Jordan. And there are also projects that “challenge the common belief that the best examples of architecture still focus only in historically privileged parts of the world, such as the US, Europe and Japan”: two examples are the Santa Fe de Bogota Foundation and the Contemporary Art Museum Zeitz, in Cape Town. Visit the full list of winners.
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Source: CovetED Magazine