March 26th, 2013 – If Klingon’s decided to go into the wine business, this futuristic camouflaged winery might suit their style. After six centuries in business, the Antinori family, owners of the Marchesi Antinori Winery, are re-branding their company’s entire estate with a completely refreshed graphic identity and a new state of the art facility hidden in the Chianti hilltops. The Florence-based creatives at Archea Associati are responsible for the contemporary transformation of the six generation company that is run by Marquis Piero Antinori with the support of his three daughters, Albiera, Allegra, and Alessia.
Archea’s Founding architects Laura Andreini, Marco Casamonti, Giovanni Polazzi, and Silvia Fabi worked closely with Antinori for what would be the most pivotal shift for the historic winery to date. The new facility is located in the Village Bargino (San Casciano Val di Pesa) at the foot of the hill along the Firenze-Siena. Amazingly, the 530,000 square foot building is hardly noticeable, the overall visual effect is minimal thanks to the inclusion of the work in the hillside through two ‘cuts’ that follow angular contour lines.
The new build consists of seven separate buildings, of varying sizes and heights, along with a road that connects the building itself with the main access road and a seperate road that connects the floor at first level with the floor at the second level – from an aerial perspective, the entire facility is hidden.
Antinori is a well cultured owner who has made it possible for Archea to pursue, through architecture, the enhancement of the landscape and the surroundings as expression of the cultural and social valence of the place where wine is produced. The physical and intellectual construction of the winery pivots on the profound and deep-rooted ties with the land, a relationship which is so intense and suffered (also in terms of economic investment) as to make the architectural image conceal itself and blend into it.
The façade extends horizontally along the natural slope, paced by the rows of vines which, along with the earth, form its “roof cover”. The openings or cuts discreetly reveal the underground interior: the office areas and bottle storage areas are situated on the top level and the areas where the wine is produced are arranged along the lower.
To cater to the produce at hand, ideal thermo-hygrometric conditions for the slow maturing of the the wine require the barrels to sit in darkness in the terracotta vaults. The architecture is required to work seamlessly with the production process of the grapes, which descend (as if by gravity) from the point of arrival, to the fermentation tanks to the underground barrel vault.
The offices, the administrative areas and executive offices, located on the upper level, are paced by a sequence of internal court illuminated by circular holes scattered across the vineyard-roof. This system also serves to provide light for the guesthouse and the caretaker’s dwelling.
The choice of materials and technologies evoke the feeling of local tradition and simplicity. Terracotta, for example was used throughout the space because it is a natural Italian resource that will work with the surrounding earth to cool and insulate the winery, creating the ideal climatic conditions for the production of wine.
The transformation of the Antinori Winery doesn’t stop with the architecture, Archea created an entirely new graphic identity to match the upgraded structure. Archea designed a system of symbols and icons that are now recognized on site and are commonly used for way finding. These icons are scattered around the facility and lead visitors and winery workers to areas such as food, restrooms, offices, and the shop. The icons create a harmonious dialogue with the spaces, colors, and materials, which becomes functional for the winery visitors.
The design team created an abstract version of the roof side of the facility as the new Antinori Winery logo, which is branded on the bottle, packaging, and signage.
Photography by Leonardo Finotti