Immersive international wine attraction opens in Bordeaux

by Kim Megson | 01 Jun 2016

The president of France Francois Hollande was on hand yesterday (31 May) for the pre-opening of La Cité du Vin; a new international cultural wine centre for Bordeaux, France.

Designed by Paris studio XTU Architects, the complex is a permanent 13,000sq m (140,000sq ft), €136m (US$151.3m, £104m) visitor experience celebrating the history of winemaking. It opens to the public today (1 June).

The building’s curving form was designed by architects Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazièresto to evoke both wine swirling in a glass and gnarled vines, as well as to create a link between and the centre and the spaces surrounding it through perpetual movement.

A wooden skeleton is covered by two layers of silk-screen printed glass panels, photovoltaic sections and perforated lacquered aluminium panels that create a golden shimmer. Inside, 10 levels separate the structure’s core and a watchtower over the city.

“This building does not resemble any recognisable shape because it is an evocation of the soul of wine located between the river and the city,” said Legendre and Desmazièresto. “Every detail of the architecture evokes wine’s soul and liquid nature. It’s intangible and sensual.”

Indoor spaces, materials and scale also reflect a sense of movement, with the wooden archways and undulating walls and ceilings created to allow visitors to pass through the building “like a flowing river”.

The architects said: “The wooden structure is reminiscent of a timber frame, of boats, of wine on its travels. It is an immersive break with reality, a world of roundness, fluidity and elevation approximating the wine experience.”

Exhibition designers Casson Mann were given a budget of over €12m (US13.3m, £9.2m) to design the centre’s permanent visitor experience across a 3,000sq m (32,300sq ft) space. The result is several interactive experiences that stimulate the sight, sound, touch, and smell of each visitor.

Their ground floor exhibition features 22 large scale displays and installations, blending audio-visual, sensory and digital technology to create a celebration of “the art, culture, history, cultivation, business and pleasure of wine.”

A film shown across three giant screens will present a bird’s eye view of different vineyard landscapes from five continents around the world, while a 10-room Gallery of Civilisations displays images and artefacts from significant moments in the history of wine – from hieroglyphic tributes to Egyptian wine to illustrations from ancient Greece and the European Middle Ages.

As a subtle warning of the dangers of alcoholism, an installation called The Chair of Despair invites visitor to occupy a single seat and listen to dramatic stories told by artists and poets about the consequences of excess.

“Our vision was to create a richly textured experience in which visitors can be inspired by wine in all its wonderful complexity, and our aim has been to play with display design and technology to create variety and interest yet remain relevant to the subject,” said Casson Mann creative director Roger Mann.

“This exhibition is completely audiovisual and multimedia, with sensory elements to surprise, delight, intrigue and educate visitors about the drama, art and craft that surrounds wine”.

Bordeaux  XTU Architects  Francois Hollande  Casson Mann  Cité du Vin  France  architecture  design 
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New cultural wine centre for Bordeaux

The president of France Francois Hollande was on hand yesterday (31 May) for the pre-opening of La Cité du Vin; a new international cultural wine centre for Bordeaux, France. Designed by Paris studio XTU Architects, the complex is a permanent 13,000sq m (140,000sq ft), €136m (US$151.3m, £104m) visitor experience celebrating the history of winemaking. It opens to the public today (1 June). The building’s curving form was designed by architects
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The building’s curving form was designed by architects Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières to evoke both wine swirling in a glass and gnarled vines / Delphine Isart
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