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Simple yet also complex: Visitors centre in Kentucky

A simple barn silhouette and an intricate facade in a colour and material reminiscent of old oak barrels are the outer attributes of the new visitors centre at the Wild Turkey Bourbon Distillery in Kentucky.

Architects: De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop
Location: Lawrenceburg, USA

Visitors centre at the Wild Turkey Bourbon Distillery in Kentucky by De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop
Photo: De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop

Located on a bluff overlooking the Kentucky River, the  visitors centre is the latest addition to the famous distillery in Lawrenceburg. Founded in 1941, the distillery firm with a wild turkey on its brand label is one of the largest tourist attractions in the region. Since its acquisition by the Campari Group in 2009 it has seen a doubling in output, and this has led to enlargement of the whole complex. A modern distillery plant was taken into operation in 2011, and now a new visitors centre opened its doors at the site a few months ago.

Visitors centre at the Wild Turkey Bourbon Distillery in Kentucky by De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop
Site map: De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop
Visitors centre at the Wild Turkey Bourbon Distillery in Kentucky by De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop
Photo: De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop

The building, which resembles a barn in shape, is clad in cedar siding stained black and set in a herringbone pattern, thus providing the exterior a varied texture that contrasts with the simplicity of the barn's silhouette. Only at the eastern end do the cedar panels pull apart to reveal the interior and to form a sunscreen for outdoor tastings or other events. 

Visitors centre at the Wild Turkey Bourbon Distillery in Kentucky by De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop
Photo: De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop

The inside of the building is organised along a split-level ramp that leads past various use areas to the tasting room on the upper floor. Offering views of the Kentucky River this room is staged as the visitors centre's spatial highlight. Contrasting dark and light colours characterise the interior of the building, which features traditional distilling materials, such as the American White Oak out of which bourbon barrels are fashioned, in combination with modern ones. Along with flexible exhibition spaces and a double-storey multi-purpose hall, the 800-square-metre building encompasses a souvenir shop, a wine tasting room and administrative offices.

Visitors centre at the Wild Turkey Bourbon Distillery in Kentucky by De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop
Photo: De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop
Visitors centre at the Wild Turkey Bourbon Distillery in Kentucky by De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop
Ground floor plan: De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop
Visitors centre at the Wild Turkey Bourbon Distillery in Kentucky by De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop
Upper floor plan: De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop
Visitors centre at the Wild Turkey Bourbon Distillery in Kentucky by De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop
Section: De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop

On the inside the alternation of opaque and light-filtering lattice  blurs boundaries between indoors and outdoors and when night falls, the structure glows gently in the dark. The four million US dollar visitors centre is designed for about 70,000 visitors a year, double the figures to date. 

Wild Turkey Bourbon Besucherzentrum, De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop
Foto: De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop
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This article is taken out of the following magazine:

DETAIL 9/2014

»Concept« Assembly Spaces

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