by Jerry ElengicalSep 13, 2023
With a wine-making heritage going back over 6500 years, Greek wine culture is intertwined with the history of its civilisation and mythology. Owing to a variety of wine regions, each with its own terroir and grape varieties, Greece celebrates this centuries old tradition of vine cultivation. In the Aegean Islands of Samos, the museum project Liknon showcases the origins of the Metaxa brand and its endemic sweet muscat grape variety.
Designed by Athens-based K-Studio, the project—which derives its name from a Dionysian rite (related to the Greek God of Wine and Revelry-Dionysus)—ennobles the 100-year old vineyard it is located in. The landscape architecture, in fact, evolves from the vine's habitat and is designed to be experienced as a walkthrough with serendipitous encounters with submerged masses, which emerge as if from the topography, and project the history of the Greek amber spirit. The program creates intrigue through ambiguity, and consists primarily of multi-directional pathways, and terraces, interspersed with intimate pause-points, which take the visitors through a series of interactive and sensory activities.
Elaborating on the program, the Greek architecture firm explains, "Rather than a building, it is a landscape, where the visitor wanders around and under the vines' birthplace, submerges underground in order to get in touch with the history of the brand through an interactive experience and a series of sensory activations.”
Embanked with dry-stone walls, these terraces are indeed an extension of the dry-stone terraces where the vines grow and ascend and descend in keeping with the terrain it seemingly grows out of. The “architecture” itself, which constitutes a terroir room, a cellar, and a clubhouse, is designed as subterranean spaces, and appears as if it is carved into the terrain.
This unassuming intervention is further underplayed with a material palette that consists of natural materials—stone, wood, bamboo, and glass— all left unfinished. Two parallel dry-stone walls extend beyond the roof line and the retractable, glass curtain wall, thus blurring the boundary between the interior and the exterior while creating a vista, which culminates with a view of the horizon.
On the exterior, the landscape is a result of both design and the mere act of being in nature. A hardscape of walls and terraces imitates the productive dry-stone terraces where vines grow. An informal sit-out space occurs so unobtrusively such that it seems almost ephemeral—a bamboo canopy suspended on two walls, appears to be fleetingly passing through the space, nevertheless enclosing a seating area, itself camouflaged against the restrained tone of the stone wall. Furthermore, stone steps and pathways create levels within the walkthrough, in tandem with the slope of the terrain.
The softscape on the other hand is lush with endemic species of plants, shrubs, trees and flowerbeds and abut the pathways and the ancillary architecture. While the vines themselves are central to the museum’s design, a rose garden and a citrus garden intersperse the site at intervals. To the north, olive groves enclose the site.
Liknon, conceptualised as a museum to showcase the history of the Metaxa brand, approaches the problem atypically. The unique terroir and muscat grape are the focus of the narrative, and the built form arises out of, and around the vines with a subdued yet pronounced disposition.
While the mass itself merges seamlessly with the landscape, individual elements are celebrated with the same fervour as the vines. Stone walls, both on the interior and the exterior are augmented by soft timber soffits and bamboo canopies while a softscape of sprawled greens balances the hardscape of stone. This cohesive infusion of architecture and landscape is a result of a design where the whole equals the sum of its parts.