Giving a traditional image new luster
For several years now, Antonello Stella and his studio ASArchitects have operated out of the city of Ferrara. But he is also known in the profession for having been one of the founder partners of n!studio, a Rome-based firm specializing in museum design whose strong emphasis on fitting into context combines with striking - at times impressionist but never excessive - exhibition settings.
The project presented here is a local cooperative winery in Pitigliano, a small hilltop town in Tuscany. Stella was already familiar with the area’s special geography having been involved as n!studio with the design in 1991 of the archaeological museum in the town’s castle-fortress Rocca Orsini. A debut project, it was widely reviewed in magazines and books on architecture, presented at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 1996, and awarded the 1998 IN/ARCH prize.
Although a completely different typology, the winery is no less strategic than the museum for the small town of Pitigliano. The cooperative is a mainstay of the local economy, emblematically located just outside the entrance to this medieval town perched on a rocky spur. Established in the 1950s, it was one of the first cooperative wineries to be set up. Although rooted in age old traditions, wine and oil production has had to adjust its offering and present a new image. As a result, increasingly high quality products now address the national and international markets. And as might be expected, the renewed product offering had to be accompanied by restyling of the premises. Today, this type of retail outlet must not only be attractive welcoming places. They have to offer visitors much more than a series of shelves with wine bottles; they must provide an emotional experience the customer will wish to repeat. This is all the more true for products where the fierce competition is increasingly sophisticated in a sector that often demands large investments in the brand.
The need to maintain and modernize the original winery was the cue to go a step further and give the cooperative a brand-new image. The result is a store where customers can taste the wines, oil and local produce. The frontage and sides of the end of the existing prefabricated reinforced concrete warehouse nearest the entrance were completely renovated to contain the new store. Cantilevering over the entrance is a steeply inclined canopy of laser-slotted
press-formed Cor-ten panels in a galvanized steel frame fastened to the existing reinforced concrete beams of the underlying prefabricated structure. Its dramatic slant seems to usher customers into the store. Inside, the retail area is separated from the warehouse proper by insulated sandwich walls clad shop-side with Cor-ten steel. Industrially produced, the panels were custom-made for the project. The soffit of the dramatic entrance canopy is echoed by the initial section of the store’s false ceiling. Clad in identical
laser-slotted, press-formed Cor-ten steel panels, this section of the ceiling mirrors its external partner by slanting upwards, wing-like. The only difference between the two structures is the longitudinal slots in the store ceiling fitted with strip LED lighting. Outside, the Cor-ten clad wall projecting beyond the original building is emblazoned with the winery’s logo. The whole enveloping entrance is backlit, creating a highly effective aspect at night.
The extensive glazed shop front set in a frame of slender
Cor-ten uprights gives a full view of the products on sale from the outside. The shop flooring is in smoothed pigmented cement while the custom-made furniture is in brushed steel. Simplicity of form without stylistic excess is the evident aim.
As Antonello Stella puts it: “The essence of the project is no-frills essentiality, in keeping with the harsh physical surrounds”. Indeed, the project design creates a continuum with the context, honoring the client, a group of people still living close to their roots. “It is a tribute”, says Stella, “both to a certain kind of minimalism that perhaps Mies van der Rohe would appreciate, but also to this rugged uncompromising land of the Maremma and its people, who reflect these same traits”.
Location: Pitigliano, Grosseto, Italy - Client: Pitigliano Agricultural Cooperative - Completion Date: 2018
Total Area: Retail Outlet 250 m2, Warehouse 1,050 m2, Yard Area 300 m2 - Costs: 1,250,000 Euros
Architect: Antonello Stella ASArchitects - Design Team: Alessandro Ballarin, Chiara Finizza, Simone Braschi
with Daniele Durante - Collaborator: Enrico Redetti - Construction Management: Antonello Stella
Main Contractor: Sirtecno
Structural: Enrico Milani - Safety Coordinator: Claudio Benassi
Heating and Cooling Systems: Mitsubishi Electric
Windows and Doors Frames: Secco Sistemi
Text by Luigi Prestinenza Puglisi
Photography by Roberto Vaccai
All images courtesy of ASArchitects