White sail in the Bordeaux region: Vineyard in Saint-Emilion
Architect: Christian Portzamparc, Paris
Location: 33330 Saint-Emilion, France
Client: Château Cheval Blanc, Saint-Emilion
Team: Etienne Pierres, Olivier Chadebost,Daniel Romeo
Structural engineering: Scyna4
Landscape architecture: Agence Méristème
Usable space: 700 m²
Costs: Euro 12 million
The history of the Château Cheval Blanc vineyard in Saint-Emilion near Bordeaux goes back to the 1830s. Distinguished as a premier grand cru classé A, the Bordeaux wines produced here enjoy worldwide fame. Since 1998, business partners Bernard Arnault and Baron Albert Frère have been running this venerable operation. In the Bordeaux region, imposing new buildings for wine cellars have been trendy for the past few years. Now Château Cheval Blanc has joined this movement with their new structure designed by Christian Portzamparc.
The former wine cellar, which hails from the 19th century, currently serves as a living space and guesthouse. Wine production has been transferred to the new building and its 700 m² of usable space.
The dynamically undulating building, whose curves are meant to recall the shape of a wine glass, looks like a white sail that has draped itself over the vineyards. While the structure appears to take flight from the longitudinal view, seen from the front it seems to meld with the ground.
Along with the formal concept, the building has a functional one as well: the separate processing of the harvest according to vineyard. Every one of the 52 fermentation tanks is dedicated to one particular vignoble. The capacity depends on the size of each parcel of land.
The overall floor plan follows a strict symmetry. Like a pearl necklace, the individual functions are linked in a chain: the foyer leads through the hall with the fermentation tanks to the area devoted to technical processing, an atrium and finally to the workshop room.
The ground floor is without supports; six vertical concrete slabs run through the entire length of the building to hold up the roof. The main materials are exposed concrete and oak, a nod to wine casks and the concrete tanks used by Cheval Blanc.