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Foster-designed visitor centre for top Rioja bodega nears completion

In October this year, Rioja’s Bodegas Faustino will inaugurate a new visitor centre designed by famous British architect, Lord Norman Foster.

The building, which, when finished, marks the completion of a complete revamp of the bodega’s facilities, is an arched, lightweight structure made using wood from local forests.

Featuring a “sweeping glass roof”, which incorporates “photovoltaic technologies” – the visitor centre should produce almost six times more energy than it needs.

Meanwhile, the vaulted, column-free interior comprises a mezzanine with views over the space beneath and out to the vineyards beyond the visitor centre.

Speaking to db about the project at Wine Paris earlier this year, Carmen Martínez Zabala, who is president of Familia Martínez Zabala – which owns Bodegas Faustino – said that it was the group’s intention to complete the project in time for this year’s vintage.

With the investment in updating and expanding the bodega’s facilities called ‘The Legacy of Bodegas Faustino’, Carmen said that it had been instigated as part of a celebration of 160 year’s since the Rioja winery was founded in 1861 in Oyón, where it is still located today.

Commenting that the design had been done to “use the least amount of energy possible”, she said that the entire facility would be open to visitors, telling db, “We want to say thank you to our customers”.

The soon-to-be finished visitor centre follows an upgrade into Faustino’s existing facilities, which comprise ageing cellars, offices and production sites, with the updates including external areas, which have been landscaped to incorporate native plant species.

This first phase of the major upgrade was completed in 2019, before the effects of Covid-19 were felt in Europe.

Carmen told db that the greening of the site – as well as the use of lighter-coloured paving materials – had not only improved its appearance, making it more attractive for employees and visitors, but also cooled the site, bringing down temperatures in the winery by 2 degrees Celsius on average.

Stressing that the 88-year-old Foster was focused on sustainability, she said that the whole project was designed to improve the eco-credentials of the bodega.

This is not the first bodega that has employed the services of Lord Foster, who is married to Spanish art curator Elena Ochoa, with the architect’s inaugural winery designed for Carmen’s company.

In 2010, Familia Martínez Zabala opened the doors of the Foster-designed Portia Winery in Ribera del Duero, with a striking trefoil plan, designed to reflects the main stages of wine production: fermentation, ageing in oak barrels and post-bottling cellaring.

Foster’s first winery was Faustino’s Bodegas Portia in Ribera del Duero, which was built in 2010. Picture source: Foster and Partners

Foster and Partners has since worked on further designs for wine producers, including Château Margaux, and Le Dôme in Saint-Émilion, while his scheme for a winery and visitor centre for Vineyard Farms, the UK’s biggest wine project, has been repeatedly rejected by local planning officers.

Foster’s rejected design for the UK’s biggest wine project to date. Picture credit: Kentish Wine Vault
Foster designed the first visible new building at Château Margaux for over 200 years, which was finished in 2015. Picture source: Foster and Partners
Foster’s Le Dome design in Saint-Emilion – the architect firm’s fourth winery. Picture source: Foster and Partners

Read more

Faustino forges ahead with new €15-million winery

Bodegas Faustino provides a lesson in sustainable winemaking

Foster design for UK’s biggest wine project

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