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Adega Mayor Winery

Alvaro Siza Vieira

The “Adega Mayor” winery by Álvaro Siza nestles amid orderly rows of vines in a landscape of gently rolling hills punctuated by the odd tree. Set on the ridge of a small hillock, the building follows the sloping terrain to become one with its environment while at the same time standing out as a distinctive feature. The architecture has been pared to the most elementary geometrical shapes. Construction materials are likewise basic. Brilliantly coloured plastered walls contrast with the surrounding earthy hues. With this building, Álvaro Siza continues his investigation into the fundaments of the art of building, peeling away all technological hyperbole or imaginative flurry. The winery presents as a simple parallelepiped. In fact it comprises two elements: the winery proper – a long, two-storey volume containing the processing, ageing and storage area for the oak casks, and a smaller, three-level volume housing the loading bay, finished products warehouse, offices and a public wine tasting area (on the 3rd floor). The floor of the winery is slightly inclined to facilitate the tasks carried out inside. By adapting to the four-metre end-to-end gradient, the building fits easily into its surrounds. It also exploits the sloping terrain to create two separate access points at different levels - one for incoming raw materials, the other for dispatching finished goods - a solution that required no major earthmoving work that would have disrupted the natural site. The upper level of the three-storey “vertical” volume is on a level with the winery roof, creating a sort of promenade across the green roof with a reflective pond in the middle, and offering sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. The clean geometrical lines and stark essentiality of the volumes are highlighted by the introduction of an element of irregularity on the 3-level elevation: a deep concrete canopy sheltering the entrance and glazed portion of the façade - a striking feature against practically...

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