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Monday, July 27, 2009

Southbrook Vineyards

Southbrook Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada by Diamond+Schmitt Architects

Text and images are courtesy Diamond+Schmitt Architects; photographs are by Tom Arban.

Southbrook Vineyards is located on a 150-acre estate in the heart of Ontario wine country. The project includes a production winery and a new 8,000 square foot facility in a separate pavilion housing retail, hospitality and administrative areas. Inspired by the flat site and low horizon lines, reinforced by the repetitive rows of grape vines planted on the site, the design of the new Southbrook Vineyards is as much about landscape as it is about architecture.

The design can be read as a series of linear elements woven together in both plan and elevation. The central feature is a 3-meter-high, 200-meter-long wall cutting through the vineyard, (grounded in the landscape). Lines of columnar poplar trees, wildflower beds and meadow grasses, an access road, and a bioswale for treating stormwater, are incised into the landscape in staggered rows that draw the eye out to the surrounding vines. Juxtaposed against the mass of the landscape wall is a delicate glass pavilion, with a large overhanging roof floating above.

Visitors arriving from the west are presented with the monolithic form of the blue wall and the razor-thin edge of the roof set in contrast to the green foreground of grape vines. A single aperture provides entry through the wall. Once through this compressed entry space, a horizontal band of glass provides framed views to the vineyard beyond. Moving into the retail or hospitality spaces a sense of openness and transparency is achieved through the perception of the floating roof balanced delicately on slender columns and the floor-to-ceiling glass fa├žade affording visitors panoramic views of the vineyards.

Inside the pavilion, the long mass wall is carved by horizontal niches used for select wine display, storage, and a wine library. Climate controlled full-height glass vitrines holding French oak barrels of wine are used, instead of walls, to define the spaces within the building. To the south of the pavilion a lower extension, concealed behind the landscape wall, houses the administrative and support functions for the building.

The project has met its sustainable design target of LEED Gold, one of only two wineries in North America to receive this designation.

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