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Ammiraglia Wine Factory

Sartogo Architetti Associati

Describing their recently completed wine-making establishment “L’Ammiraglia” in Magliano, Tuscany, Piero Sartogo and Nathalie Grenon talk of “raising a layer of earth and sliding a long thin construction into the side of a natural incline”. The factory is literally fitted into the hill. The 3,000 sq m plus production facility, comprising a great deal of stainless steel and galvanized iron, is out of sight; only the most interesting and aesthetically pleasing parts are on view. This is especially important in a place like Tuscany whose priceless landscape makes any new-build endeavour a very risky business, as demonstrated by other wine-making plant in the area. Among them, is a facility by Renzo Piano that although dialoguing with its surrounds, raises some doubts as whether it really fits into the landscape. Other buildings, like for example, Studio Archea’s predominantly underground programme in the Chianti region resonate more successfully with the surrounding countryside. Of course, for architecture to be noteworthy, it has to be visible. Which means, in this case, that the “buried” element must be more apparent than real, and that the programme must be based on varying planes and contrasting shadows rather than on mass, volume and lights. Moreover, while fitting discretely into its physical context, Sartogo and Grenon’s structure displays a series of features that paradoxically overturn the rules of discretion and cause the architecture to stand out from its context. The first of these exceptions is the large projecting garden roof with its Rheinzink-clad pointed end. The use of a stridently artificial material creates a clear line of demarcation between construction and natural context - further giving the impression that a layer of earth has been raised in order to slide in a building. Viewed from the bottom of the hill, the eaves on the left hand side of the building jut out beyond the contour line to create a spike whose upward movement recalls...

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