by Jerry ElengicalNov 01, 2022
Cyprus and its wine-making tradition dates back to at least 2300 BC, it is no wonder, then that the geographical, cultural, and architectural influences of the region entail stories of this long-standing history. In awe of this tradition of Cyprus, the land of Commandaria wine - which is often known as 'the wine of kings and the king of wines' - Eraclis Papachristou Architects designed a wine distillery. While the traditional significance of vine-growing and wine-making is more prominent in the geographical region, the Cypriot architects approached the architecture of Lampadistis Wine Distillery from a different perspective. True to its name, the inspiration for it comes from the architectural design of the three churches of the region named after St John the Baptist, called the ‘Lampadistis’. Borrowing from the impressions of the church architecture and the world-famous wine-making tradition of Cyprus, the architects perched a brutalist structure on a promontory, above the remote mountain village of Kalopanayiotis.
The concrete structure, a wonderful example of béton brut architecture, appears to be anchored to the hill, preparing to take flight. The form of the building unwinds in three characters— a bulky substructure, and an angular superstructure: with a concrete roof and perforated façade. The architecture of the wine distillery encourages the visitor to perceive the ceremonial design in all its avant-garde drama. While the architects mention the influence of the Lampadistis in the distillery architecture, the physical manifestation of this influence can be seen in the three cylindrical structures visible in the form. Furthermore, the cylindrical structures borrowed from the churches shapeshift in concept, to represent the three main stages of winemaking— fermentation, ageing, and bottling. Adding to the experiential planning of the space, the architects mention, "All these elements have been aligned, in effect along a linear path that leads from the mountainside to the very heart of the process. A first plateau narrows to a bridge that hangs awkwardly above the considerable drop, before turning sharply to find itself within the building.”
Connecting spatial planning to the trilogy of cylinders are the floor plates that connect the three separate spaces into a whole. The wine-tasting space overlooking the serene hills of Kalopanayiotis village sets a scenic viewpoint for the distillery and a spatial experience with intriguing architectural details. Included in this detailing is the geometrical ceiling in timber, layered beneath the industrial character of the roof and the balustrade design. Narrating the design of its ceiling, the architects share, "The massive ceiling, defined by strong geometries that rotate about the three core drums (where the stages of wine production are housed) are in reclaimed timber, from a massive forest fire that struck the island several years ago." Complimenting the earthy tones and contrasting the natural material palette of the ceiling design are the filtering balustrades. In a metal framework, trying not to block the view of the mountains, the architects created a unique pattern for the balustrade detail. Adding to the analogy of the sculptural element, the architects mention that the pattern was derived from a study of the traditional walls of the context.
Remarking on the industrial design of the distillery, the architects add, “This is a part of the language that allows the building to locate itself within its context. It does this not only through geometry but also scale, resting with confidence upon the rugged promontory of the mountainside. It is a statement not only of itself but about itself. The awkward nature of the structure, so often stopping short of completion, has the effect of reaching into its context rather than being an internalised conversation.” However, the completion of this conversation is the amalgamation of smaller architectural elements inundated with influences of brutalist architecture. The rainwater spout imparts a significant presence in the structure’s appearance through its peculiar form and scale. While the roof presents itself as a monumental volume, the ceiling has the simplicity of wood architecture.
Throughout the design process, the architects explored a different approach to narrate the contextual significance of the building. Often, architecture that anchors in a serene natural setting tends to follow vernacularism and blend with its surroundings. Antithetical to that, the architecture of the Lampadistis Wine Distillery aims to take a distinct and unique identity. It doesn’t seem to forcefully adopt contextual architecture into it but confidently presents itself as a statement that attracts attention. Even so, at its core, there is regionalism in its architectural detailing. The rudimentary and minimal reflection of brutalism in a dynamic setting rather comes out as a powerful dialogue of architecture and nature, each taking up the space they require.