You could easily drive by and not even know that the new Antinori Chianti Classico Winery and office are located in Bargino, just off the highway between Florence and Siena. Why? Because the Antinori family has so much respect for the beauty of the Tuscany landscape, they wanted to retain the integrity of it soC they built it almost entirely underground.
This was a huge task, as the building and cellars are almost 500,000 square feet, i.e. the size of a typical 30 or 40-floor office building. First, the soil from the four-hectare site was removed and stored so the support structure, cellars and building could be built. Then the soil was placed back on top of the building and new vineyards were planted on top.
Today, all you see from the road are two earth-tone, elongated arches that mirror the profile of a iconic Tuscan hills and a young two-year old vineyard. The visual impact is minimal to say the least.
However, upon arriving at the the site and driving into the underground entrance, you are immediately struck by something special. An eerie light streams in from a huge hole in the ceiling illuminating two sets of human leg-like support beams and a grand, circular staircase. It is like walking into a James Bond movie or a surreal church. I have heard it referred to as "the cathedral in the desert."
As you ascend the staircase, you notice each of the stairs is slightly different in size and rise and the railing has a distinct, vertical striation in a palette of earth tones. At the top of the staircase, you arrive at a plaza with a sweeping view of the vineyard and Tuscan hills. The pattern, rhythm and line of the railing and stairwell structure echo that of a vineyard.
Once inside, the building is like a contemporary art gallery with large, open gallery-like spaces. The light and building continues to play games, creating interesting shadows, shapes and reflections that become art.
The following images illustrate better than any text could how the new, uber-chic Antinori Chianti Classico Winery design by Archea Associati architects is a work of art.
About the Antinori Family
The Antinori family has been making wine since 1385 (no, that is not a typo). For 26 generations the family has been creating some of the best Chianti Classico wine from the Tuscany region. Today, the winery is managed by Marquis Piero Antinori and his three daughters - Albiera, Allegra and Alessia.
The family is known for its continuous experimentation, tradition, passion and innovation. Its mission is "to reconcile both new discoveries yet to be made and the patrimony of Tuscan wine. A patrimony that includes, tradition, culture, agriculture, art and literature." The new Antinori Chianti Classico Winery perfectly expresses this vision.
Richard White, October 19, 2014
Most of these kinds of amazing design things are illegal in Canada because our building code is designed to quash beauty and creativity, while adding huge expense. Mostly it is there to provide work for lawyers, protect property for insurance companies, and add huge costs so that contractors can make more money.
If I sound a little bitter, I am. Are Canadians the dumbest people on earth? They must have a built in urge to climb handrails, hurl themselves off balconies, set fire to things and hang out in smoke filled lobbies. We put sprinkler systems over swimming pools, spend millions on complex, highly technical fire alarm systems that do not operate properly and set off so many false alarms that no one actually believes them and exits the building.
I would love a beautiful stair with a giant speaker system available outside the building that can be used by someone to shout, “This is a real emergency. Get the hell out now, or you will burn”! This would cost less and also be available for karaoke at noon during the lunch breaks.
Enjoy good design. It’s hard to do in Canada.
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