A sustainable organic winery called Cascina Elena has updated an Alta Langa landscape in Rocchetta Belbo, Italy, without disruption. Limiting excavation and displacements helped BRH+ architects create an environmentally and economically updated facility while respecting the soul and history of the land.
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To create a new building for the winery, the architects built it horizontally along the contour of the hill to create a sort of natural terracing. The building reinterprets vernacular architecture that avoids decoration by focusing on simple geometric shapes. The designers say this was to give shape and expression to the identity of the wine produced and the care dedicated to the agricultural practices used to obtain it.
Cascina Elena cares about craftsmanship in wine production. Therefore, the architects tried to allude to this in the care put into architectural detail. Earth and wine inspired a color palette of browns.
To use sustainable materials, the architects selected locally sourced and sustainable products that also reduced the need for maintenance of the building. Many materials can also be recycled if the building is demolished in the future — an attention to detail many sustainable buildings are now including.
Additionally, a prefab steel frame can be dismantled and recycled. This also reduces construction time to eight months. A clay cladding with high density creates thermal lag while the ground around the cellar reduces air conditioning needs. Solar radiation heat is then dissipated through a ventilated wall system on the facade and roof.
The facade, which has horizontal terracotta tiling, mimics the natural environment’s sedimentary rock layers in texture to make sure the building is not only sustainable but suits its natural placement. The insulation is all made of natural materials, including cork panels, hemp and wood fiber.
Energy is produced by renewable sources from photovoltaic panels on the roof. Rainwater is also recycled. Attention was paid to workers as well, who use a space that is ventilated and naturally lit to stay comfortable. The space reduces energy use, too.
Designers BRH+ create contemporary conceptual buildings for clients. With this green project, the designers continue to update the definition of Italian-born architecture and traditional winery style.
Images via Aldo Amoretti