Wine with a view: ORA converts former Renaissance house into a rustic winery

Winery Nešetřil, located in the Czech Republic, acts on an elaborate spatial program for the production, tasting and selling of wine, in the historical town of Znojmo.

by Anmol AhujaPublished on : Nov 30, 2020

The southern region of Moravia in Czech Republic accounts for nearly 96 per cent of the country’s wine production, owing to its sizeable vineyards and distinct, local grape produce. The Winery Nešetřil springs in the heart of the historically rich southern Moravian town of Znojmo, on the Masaryk Square. ORA was approached by its client, a local winemaker, with an ambition to create a facility that wasn’t just all things wine: creating, selling and tasting it, but also a place where there could be feasts, events and even accommodations for guests, for a truly involving viniculture experience. For this comprehensive brief, the designers at ORA worked with the townhouse itself, its courtyard, and the cellars adjoining the Znojmo underground, making the use of every square centimetre of space available.

  • The expansive courtyard is Winery Nešetřil’s most striking feature |Winery Nešetřil | ORA | STIRworld
    The expansive courtyard is Winery Nešetřil’s most striking feature Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • The terrace on top of the extension serves as a viewing deck |Winery Nešetřil | ORA | STIRworld
    The terrace on top of the extension serves as a viewing deck Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • The extension is constructed with contemporary materials that age well |Winery Nešetřil | ORA | STIRworld
    The extension is constructed with contemporary materials that age well Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice

The winery finds its home in a narrow plot, seeming as though shrunk between two high-rising walls from adjacent plots, lending its open courtyard a degree of privacy and intimacy. The first wall, constructed in rubble and beautifully weathered with the lime plaster chipping off, cracking, paving way for new foliage on the wall, belongs to a former Capuchin Monastery. The second, bare by contrast and completely unadorned, belongs to a vast cultural centre from the 80s, now inoperative for years. By design, most of ORA’s built intervention clings to the bare cultural centre wall, while the monastery wall has been left as it was to stand out and add to the courtyard as much as it could.

The entrance passage with the floor embedded ceramic wine vessels |Winery Nešetřil by ORA | STIRworld
The entrance passage with the floor embedded ceramic wine vessels Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice

One gains access to the expansive winery through a double cross vaulted space dubbed “the passage”, decorated in metal, wood, rubble and exposed plaster. The designers state it to be the warehouse of winemaking utensils and technology, with the wine maturing in Georgian ‘kvevri’, ceramic vessels built into the floor. The passage has five of them, and also serves as the connection between the courtyard and an entry point to the accommodation on the first floor.

  • The double cross vaulted wine bar |Winery Nešetřil by ORA | STIRworld
    The double cross vaulted wine bar Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • The wine rack, and the “cross” from the vaults developed into a repeating interior motif |Winery Nešetřil by ORA | STIRworld
    The wine rack, and the “cross” from the vaults developed into a repeating interior motif Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice

An operational necessity was to design an extension with service rooms in the yard, standing in the former wing of the courtyard destroyed during the war. A few existing sheds were also demolished to make way for the new construction: a contemporary pavilion hidden away from the outside. The pavilion is constructed entirely in timber, concrete, and steel, materials that the designers thought age well and complemented the existing building aesthetically. The extension’s roof serves as a beautiful terraced annex with seating, and is connected to the courtyard by an expanding sanded concrete staircase.

  • The upper level of the cellar with steel tanks for production of the wine, and access to the lower level |Winery Nešetřil by ORA | STIRworld
    The upper level of the cellar with steel tanks for production of the wine, and access to the lower level Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • The lower level of the cellars consists of beautiful brick masonry vaults and connects to Znojmo’s historic underground |Winery Nešetřil by ORA | STIRworld
    The lower level of the cellars consists of beautiful brick masonry vaults and connects to Znojmo’s historic underground Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • The lower level also houses wooden barrels for ageing and storing wine |Winery Nešetřil by ORA | STIRworld
    The lower level also houses wooden barrels for ageing and storing wine Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice

The project, recently completed, has been in the works for more than five years, since as long back as 2014, and it began with the reconstruction of a small interior wine bar. The definitive character of the space is a pair of cross vaults, naturally dividing the spatial layout into two parts as well. The first, near the entrance, serves as a more intimate, nestled in seating for the guests, with both tables and a long bench. The second one houses a work desk along a bar and a smart wine rack. The adaptive reuse of this space involved minimal interference with the renaissance era vaults, with a very modernist, linear, cross-shaped chandelier illuminating the vault, lending new definition to the space by contrast. The basic motif of a “cross” derived from the vaults then permeates the entire interior.

  • Street level master plan of the site |Winery Nešetřil | ORA | STIRworld
    Street level master plan of the site Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • Roof plan |Winery Nešetřil | ORA | STIRworld
    Roof plan Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • Ground floor plan |Winery Nešetřil | ORA | STIRworld
    Ground floor plan Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • First floor plan |Winery Nešetřil | ORA | STIRworld
    First floor plan Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • Longitudinal section through the building and cellar |Winery Nešetřil | ORA | STIRworld
    Longitudinal section through the building and cellar Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • Transverse section |Winery Nešetřil | ORA | STIRworld
    Transverse section Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice

The only part of the former wing still standing today are the cellars, which are now intended to be used for the production premises for the wine. The cellars are entered through a secret door in the facade of the extension. Being directly connected to the historical Znojmo underground, the cellars comprise two levels of beautifully aged brick masonry and arches that the architects left completely without interference, except for the introduction of uplighting incorporated in the ground. The cellars on the first level feature stainless steel tanks that serve as the primary production area of the winery, while the second level houses large wooden barrels for the storage and ageing of the wine. Apart from some sly remnants that were later demolished in the courtyard, the cellars are the only part of the building that survived from the Second World War, directly underneath the extension.

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