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Fattoria di Azzano Wine Shop: designers perspective

We asked architects and interior designers Marco Grandesso and Dario Schiavo to share their point of view on the design process that lead to the current Wine Shop at the Fattoria di Azzano. Here’s their story.

The project was initiated by the request by the client, the Conti di Porcia e Brugnera, a wine-producing family for eight centuries, to re-structure for retail sales use the ground-floor spaces in one wing of the cellar complex in Azzano Decimo, in the province of Pordenone. The client’s objective was to re-structure the sales facility in a modern and contemporary key, but to preserve continuity with the centuries-old activities of the family and with the historical character of the physical structure.

The new organisation of the spaces therefore took into account the historical structure’s distinctive character and its articulated layout, privileging the longitudinal axis of the various spaces as the project’s overall functional element and chief compositional axis.

In the project, this trajectory connects in visual succession the new spaces that host the sales area, wineshop, and wine pouring area with its multi-purpose room and the barrel cellar, now visible from the sales areas through a screen-type transparent wall.

In order to respect the building’s original fabric, it was decided to keep all new walls to an absolute minimum. Further, the internal walls were given a “second skin,” a wooden structure covered by multilayer panels in beechwood, not merely for aesthetic reasons but as a true functional element characterising the new overall environment. In addition, the interiorly-mounted insulating panels contributed to meeting current standards relating to thermal insulation.

This “skin” and the furnishings, the latter too constructed of beech, constitute together a functional and aesthetic unity; this system is completely reversible as well, since the flexibility of its constitutive elements—beechwood panels and furniture –allow future variations dictated by changed requirements.

The idea of a covering in wood to contain the new sales spaces originated from a desire to create an “ennobled” space, with its conceptual model the woodwork which in historical civic architecture was the preferred covering for the most important environments. Such an element, then, is appropriate to contain one of noblest products of the earth and of man—wine–, thus serving as a metaphor for the custom-made “gift box”—often made of beech—that contains the noble wine.

The project’s geometry, in addition to remaining in syntony with the existing structure, focused on the diameter of the wine bottle–7.5cm—as the base for the entire structural composition: the dimensions of the furnishings and the geometrical motif of the woodwork are built of multiples of this figure. The overall space and the element which comprise it are therefore organised by regular segments based on proportional relationships.

The space is managed in a fluid fashion, and the utilisation of identical materials for both walls and furnishings accentuates the continuity between one room and the next. The use too of mirrors and of some mirrored surfaces tends to multiply the space and its compositional elements, through multiple reflections of its image, thus further emphasising that continuity. The radiating floor pattern throughout the spaces does the same; its tobacco-coloured cement bears impressed joint patterns that mirror the project’s geometry.

The wine shop is characterised by furnishings that are in harmony with the wood panelling and functionally appropriate to the display of bottles, cases of wines, and food products. The office space has a cashier station with a white electropainted mirror finish and an equipped wall, which functions as the connecting link between the wine shop and the multi-use space and its wine-pouring counter. The tasting area has been designed to offer tastings and meetings, and for this purpose it has four custom-designed tables made of multi-layered beech. A projection screen built into the beech panelling facilitates screenings, and for this purpose the windows can be closed off with portable panels, a characteristic classic to wine cellars, which need control of lighting to protect the wines.