A project that reveals a hidden, unexpected Sicily
Menfi is a small town between Mazara del Vallo and Agrigento in southwestern Sicily. The short stretch of land between it and the coast is all gently rolling hills covered with olive groves and vineyards. Overlooking the sea at around 300 feet (90 m) above sea level, it’s on one of these hills that the Mandrarossa winery has had its new barrel cellar built. Designed by the architects from Vid’A studio, it’s located at the foot of the existing Settesoli production facility in the Puccia district.
The new structure has been designed around the shape of its site and the surrounding landscape. Beginning with the idea of a terraced building that follows the lie of the land, the project developed into a structure with three underground floors set back into the slope and one aboveground level – a striking, southwest-facing pigmented concrete structure with a sloping roof on which the winery’s huge metal silos seem to rest.
Reinforcing the impression that the aboveground structure incorporates and unifies the existing elements, its roof is both a terrace and a hub between the storage facilities, the entrance to the new building, and the wine cellar. The horizontal thrust of its pergola structure underscores the centrality of this open space, while, to the east, two large rectangular frames with wood slats mark off the volume, extending like binoculars towards the African sea.
A network of vertical connections leads off the terrace, which visitors can follow to discover the different sections of the barrel cellar from top to bottom. Following a metal walkway, you can see the 120 different sized barrels as well as the wine-making areas.
As you descend into the depths of the hill, the double-height spaces and absence of horizontal structures allow natural light to flow in from above into the spaces below. Besides large windows framed by wooden slats, small square slits in the wall direct light inwards in an atmospheric crisscross pattern. The pathway eventually takes you to the tasting room, which, through two large cantilevered windows that break up the rigidity of the aboveground structure, overlook the sea and hilly landscape.
On the one hand, Mandrarossa’s new barrel cellar is designed to integrate into the surrounding landscape, imitating the color of the earth with the pigments added to the concrete mix, the wood used for the interiors, and the plant life in the roof garden. On the other, it’s brave and striking industrial architecture and a recognizable landmark that combines the identity of the site and the history of the manmade landscape.
Location: Menfi, Italy
Architects: Gruppo Vid’A
Client: Cantine Mandrarossa
Lighting: Linea Light Group
Photography by Lamberto Rubino, courtesy of Gruppo Vid’A