The Cusumano Winery at Partinico near Palermo in Sicily was inaugurated in 2007 in an old 19th century “baglio” renovated by the Ruffinoassociati practice. A characteristic feature of the Sicilian landscape, a baglio is a fortified country residence built around a large inner court, with a defensive look-out tower, animal pens and water well enclosed by an outer wall.
The historic buildings have been turned into a functions area while the wine-producing side and offices are located in a new construction nearby whose C-shaped ground plan and inner court echo its older neighbour. The long side of this new 60 m long, 20 m wide building housing refining and aging operations is oriented east-west to exploit both solar radiation and the prevailing winds. Balanced wind flues ensure natural ventilation and interior temperature control. The lowered area between the end of this building and the old residence has been turned into a garden. A pond set tangentially to the long wall creates a cool, damp microclimate ideal for the barrique storage bays within. The balanced wind flues on the other side of the building also help keep interiors cool and damp.
The building has a reinforced concrete pillar-and-beam frame with brick infills. A gable roof creates a ventilated loft that contributes to thermal insulation. The flat roof of the section occupied by the offices recalls Sicily’s Arab-style architecture. The garden both links and divides these different architectural worlds, its wall marking out the different functions within the complex. The old garden of the former baglio comprising citrus, prickly pear, olive trees and a tall palm has been extended by a newly planted citrus grove.
On the interior, flexible spatial distribution ensuring as much natural lighting as possible was the key requirement. Rimadesio, the interior partitions specialist was called in. Custom-made Graphis sliding partitions with minimum thickness aluminium frames supporting double glazed panels were installed. Excellent acoustic insulation combines with maximum luminosity.
As well as versatility, Rimadesio’s glass and aluminium systems are completely recyclable on decommissioning. This interior distribution choice lends a touch of modern refinement to an historic building.
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