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Florence airport to get rooftop vineyard

When you think of Tuscan vineyards, it may be of the rolling hills of Chianti Classico, or the idyllic coastal area of the Maremma – but on your next visit to the region you might be able to spy some vines before the plane has even landed.

The roof of the new terminal at Amerigo Vespucci Airport will be designed with a difference – instead of just being a grey space welcoming you to your destination, it will include an almost-8 hectare vineyard.

Designed by New York-based firm Rafael Viñoly Architects, the new international terminal will be some 50,000 square metres in size and will be connected to the rest of the airport by a light railway.

As for the vineyard, it will reportedly have 38 rows of vines. It is currently unknown which varieties will be planted there, though presumably varieties closely associated with Tuscany, such as Sangiovese and Trebbiano Toscano, will be considered.

“Linear structures of precast concrete contain the soil and irrigation to sustain the vineyard and are held aloft by a network of branching columns that preserve layout flexibility for the terminal’s internal components,” a statement from the architects explained.

Skylights in the roof, between the vines, will help to illuminate the terminal beneath.

“The vineyards will be cultivated and harvested by one of the region’s leading vintners and the wine will be crafted and aged on-site in specialised cellars below the area where the ground begins to slope up to become the terminal’s roof,” it added.

The identity of the leading vintner has not yet been disclosed. It is also unclear where the finished wine will be sold.

“This enormous surface, which hides the airport terminal when viewed from Brunelleschi’s Duomo and other prominent vantage points in the city, will not only serve as a new landmark for the city’s sustainable future, but also as a symbol of the traditions, history and innovative spirit that continue to drive the Italian economy into the 21st century.”

The construction of the terminal, and its extra features, is expected to be totally completed by 2035, according to Arch Daily.

The Guardian‘s architecture correspondent Rowan Moore was sceptical of the project, questioning the effects of “jet fumes and fuel dumps on the vintage and the practicalities of combining harvests with the functions of an airport”.

Regarding the former point, countless vineyards are situated alongside busy roads, and there are also those under flight paths as well, so pollution may not be quite as bad for the grapes as feared.

As for the question of the feasibility of harvesting – given the cellar is below the terminal, the fruit won’t have too far to go. The difficulty may be if the harvest clashes with a spike in travellers – September and October are the months when most picking is done.

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