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House of Wine in Berneck, Carlos Martinez Architekten, Photo: Faruk Pinjo for Carlos Martinez Architekten

A Stage for Wine and Culture: House of Wine in Berneck

It is more than a house of wine: in the historical heart of Berneck in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen, embedded in the small-scale built surroundings, local studio Carlos Martinez Architekten have erected a new, modern centre for the products arising from regional viticulture. The structure also functions as a centre for culture and the community.

The key component of the two-part ensemble is the House of Wine, a monolithic structure of beige-tinted concrete. Its colour harmonizes with the existing buildings and opens onto the village centre. Formwork imprints of different types of vine leaves discreetly ornament the exposed-concrete surface. The steeply rising saddle roof follows the roofline of the main structure and concordantly completes the row of buildings. The former farm building known as “the barn” was reconstructed by the architects and remains true to the original in both shape and size. It accommodates the distribution area, ancillary spaces and rooms for community use.

The winegrowers’ cellar, which features a modern interpretation of a vaulted ceiling, forms the heart of the monolith. It serves as a presentation and tasting room. Kept at an indoor temperature of 17 degrees, around 2,000 bottles of wine from about 20 different regional growers are stored here. The polished concrete floor is reminiscent of the natural gravel floors of earlier wine cellars.

The bright, ground-floor event hall above the cellar − inspired by a wine barrel − is clad with wood. An adjustable glass façade opens the room to a barrier-free width of more than seven metres and a height of nearly three metres. With this area, the architects have created a seamless transition from interior to exterior. The glass elements, when slid together, can be stowed to one side as a narrow bundle.

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