In the area of Barolo grapevines grow on the low hills of the sun drenched Langhe, offering grapes “the song of the earth”. A new, secret construction stands under a green layer, as soft as the surrounding landscape, in the midst of mysterious obscurity. This new cellar takes shape on a patch of land between the sky and the vineyards, following the natural trends of metamorphosis that turns grapes into bright wine.
The project was carried out on a small valley floor between a local road and the small river Rio della Fava in Barolo. Careful research and attention to the surrounding hills has inspired the design of a building totally covered with grass. The estate has been built at about 5.50 metres below the level of the existing farm. The new and quiet construction gently approaches the town of Barolo with the strength of a new and contemporary architectural style. The green layer moves away from the existing building and descends to the ground, gently linking the new construction with the level of the existing countryside. This creates a small farmyard in the shape of an arc carved on the hill. This arrangement allows for the building to stretch towards the valley, similarly to the countless hill sides of the Langhe area. The building therefore looks like an additional hillside to a landscape of precious rows of vines. In other words, it does not alter its surroundings and rather adds “inner” values through the essential metamorphosis that turns grapes into wine.
The hypogeal building suggests the idea of a stretched and slender hillside. It is totally under ground and covered with a layer of water-proof polyolefin, coated with a green roof at least 40 cm thick, on top of the numerous drainage, insulation and protective layers. On the last green layer, vegetation was grown using special established systems. This level has been joined to the surrounding grounds that stretch towards the small river so as to define and mould, with soft linking shapes, the cellar’s roof, laying on the river without touching its banks that are naturally kept green. The small hillside rises and thus creates a gash that moves up and opens onto the western side along the road and gives way to a wide rift with split edges, thus revealing the porch in front of the entrance and the small round courtyard. This element catches the attention of those who come from the valley, showing a transparent wall which opens onto the accesses to the building for operators, finished and unfinished goods and mechanical equipment. The journey continues towards the inside of the building where grapes are turned into wine, to then come out onto the same porch from which it has started. “Fermentation and transformation of the fruit has led the covering ground to rise” thus affecting the surrounding landscape. The highest part of the estate starts from an arc shaped pocket of land that looks onto the hill and the land on which the precious grapes grow. This is the spot where the winery is best represented and the wine best tasted. The room, accessible from the farmyard level of the pre-existing Adelaide farm, through wide glass surfaces, looks onto the opposite hill and, below, onto the rooms for wine aging, winemaking and bottling.
The load bearing structure is covered with a layer of green vegetation kept flourishing through an automatic irrigation system which allows for an evergreen blanket. The system includes continuous levels of water containers placed only 30 cm below the ground, which evaporate and thus supply the root system of the green blanket with water, while at the same time stabilizes temperatures inside the building. The building’s bays (mesh 8.00x 8.00 m) have basement windows that appear on the green blanket above in order to let air flow through each one of them. The back of the hypogeal building reduces the internal height (5.5m) to a minimum of 2 metres, where services are found.