Our ambition for Bodega Bauer was to create an architecture informed by the same particularities of the earth which are embodied in the wine of the region. Siting and materiality are guided by the subtleties of sun and wind exposure, climate, the unexpected nuances of each season, and the presence and absence of water and shade.
The Incan irrigation technology that made the region habitable since pre-Columbian times by channeling snow melt from the Andes, was a powerful source of inspiration. Extending this system of ancient waterways, a central channel connects the house to the winery, and becomes a collector for water harvested from the building’s rooftops for irrigation. The new channel guides visitors along a sensuous journey through which one encounters the elements – sun, wind, soil, and water – which make the wine unique. What emerges is an architecture that accentuates its environment, and is at one with the raw, bold spirit of Mendoza.
Along the irrigation channel, two bold linear forms – one descending, the other rising out of the ground – evoke the correspondence of architecture and wine. The descending structure is the wine-making facility which follows the gravity fed wine making process into the barrel aging vault below. The ascending structure allows the visitor to see how the wine is made, and culminates with a tasting room overlooking the vineyards and landscape. The forms of the winery create a playful interplay of sloping planes that allow the subtle topography of the ground to be perceived.
At the western end of the channel, the estate house floats above the vines seeming to defy that same force of gravity that serves the wine making process. The house is protected by a sleek and sculptural sunscreen made of re-purposed barrel staves, which drapes the estate in magnificent patterns of shadow and light that change throughout the day and the seasons.
Barrels are elemental to wine-making, and the architectural language shaped here adapts and repeats the simple, natural form of the barrel stave in two distinct ways. French oak staving found in the Mendoza timber yards inspired the design of the “stave skin” – the membrane structure that protects the estate house from the sun as well as its counter form, a horizontal pattern of imprinted barrel staves that characterizes the concrete walls of the winery. Together, the two materials provide a complementary continuity of language on the interior and exterior surfaces.
Recycled barrel staves shade the estate house from the desert sun and promote air movement between the roof and stave membrane. Cool air is drawn in from shaded underside of house through internal planters and exhausted through convection along a central linear sky light. The Winery is gravity fed, the fly ash concrete is earth-insulated, and provides the consistent cool temperatures and air quality critical to fermentation and barrel aging.