Château La Coste Art Gallery
Chateau la Coste, near Aix-en-Provence in the south of France, is a winery and estate whose owners have been commissioning contemporary art and architecture for their domain since 2004. Renzo Piano was invited to make his mark on this collection with a design for a new wine cellar and exhibition space.
The traditional 17th-century provençale buildings of Chateau la Coste were significantly added to in 2008, with a state-of-the-art new cuverie (winemaking facility) designed by Jean Nouvel. This new cuverie, along with pavilions by Frank Gehry and Tadao Ando, amongst others, plus an impressive collection of contemporary artworks displayed in the grounds, make Chateau La Coste much more than just a winemaking estate.
Buried into the vineyards that make up the domain, RPBW’s new 900 sq m building will literally be carved out of the ground. A site in the vineyards will be excavated to a depth of 6m to create a space within which to insert the building. The earth dug out is being used to build rammed-earth walls along two sides of the new pavilion. The building comprises a linear cellar area for storing wine and a glazed 180 sq m gallery space for exhibiting sculpture and photography. The rammed-earth walls are intended as a material contrast to the crispness of the glass facades that will enclose the pavilion on either side of the gallery.
A glass roof and a layer of adjustable light-shading slats sit above the gallery. This glass roof is surmounted by a lightweight fabric ‘kite-roof’. A concertina of fabric is attached to slender steel beams and the roof is anchored on either side into the ground, to align with the level of the vineyard and the lines of the vines. The fabric roof protects the building, in particular its rammed-earth walls, from rain and strong sunlight.
A long, straight path crosses the estate, leading to the new pavilion. The ground slopes down towards and through the building. An entrance lobby to the left of the main facade leads into the wine cellar. The visitor turns right from this entrance corridor into the main exhibition space, where the building widens out into a truncated triangular space. A second linear lobby to the right of the main space leads outside to a sunken courtyard behind the building, which can be used as a performance space.
The building is due for completion in 2014.
Client: SCEA Château La Coste
Renzo Piano Building Workshop, architects
Design Team: J. Moolhuijzen, M.Van der Staay (partner and associate in charge) with K.Lim; O.Aubert, C.Colson and Y.Kyrkos (models)