Foster + Partners winery blends into beautiful French landscape
We often associate high-profile firm Foster + Partners with massive projects like the 50 Hudson Yards skyscraper, but its most recent work is far more modest in comparison. Named Le Dôme Winery, the building is designed to take its place well among the beautiful landscape in the famous French winemaking region of Bordeaux.
First unveiled back in 2019, the winery was created in collaboration with A3A Architects and is situated near the Saint-Émilion commune in Bordeaux, which has been a spot used for winemaking since the Roman days. The area is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Cultural Landscape, so the idea was to design something that wouldn't become a blight on the landscape.
"When [winery owner] Jonathan Maltus first approached us, he expressed a desire to create a distinctive new winery, set against the unique backdrop of Saint-Émilion," explains Foster + Partners founder Norman Foster, who immediately sketched the basic design during that initial meeting with the client. "He wanted the building to be a celebration of the beautiful site, focusing on the views of the vineyard and making the landscape the primary protagonist in the design. The idea was to blend the building with its surroundings while creating a welcoming space for visitors and wine enthusiasts."
The winery reaches a height of just 10 m (32 ft) and consists of two above-ground floors, plus a basement level. Visitors navigate the building using two ramps: one wrapped around the exterior and another inside. The exterior ramp provides access to the second floor balcony area from outside, while the interior ramp takes visitors on a tour around the winery, allowing them to see the winemaking process in action. It culminates in a viewing area and wine bar on the second floor that's glazed to show off the choice 360-degree view.
The building is topped by an impressive timber roof measuring 40 m (131 ft) in diameter that's clad in recycled terracotta tiles and has an oculus at its center, helping fill the interior with natural light and reducing electricity needs. Its base is made with local concrete – not rammed earth as was planned when it was first proposed – and is covered with timber slats and partially buried into the ground. This both reduces the winery's visual impact on the terrain and helps to insulate it. Additionally, a rainwater collection system is installed for irrigation.
Source: Foster + Partners