La Cite Du Vin, is the world’s largest visitor center dedicated to the story of wine and a landmark attraction in the heart of the world’s wine capital, the port city of Bordeaux.
Designed by Parisian Architects, XTU, the €36.8 million building covers about 30,000 sqm catering to a number of functions and experiences all of which were designed by London-based Interior Design Consultants, Casson Mann. They were responsible for creating an “Immersive, Interactive and Sensory Vistor experience” spanning across 3000 sqm of 24 large scale exhibits.
Here’s a description of the project from XTU (which you can read in full here),
“This building does not resemble any recognisable shape because it is an evocation of the soul of wine between the river and the city……seamless roundness, intangible and sensual”
A strong architectural statement, La Cité du Vin stands out with its bold curves and shape. An iconic building, this golden frame hosts a Cité within the city, a living space with experiences to discover. The initial aim of the building’s architecture was genuinely to create a link between La Cité du Vin and the spaces surrounding it through perpetual movement, while developing in line with the scenography, making the architecture a voyage in itself. Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières, the architects from XTU, designed a space shaped by symbols of identity: gnarled vine stock, wine swirling in a glass, eddies on the Garonne. Every detail of the architecture evokes wine’s soul and liquid nature. This roundness transcribed in the building’s exterior can also be felt in its indoor spaces, materials and scale.
La Cité du Vin dazzles with a golden shimmer reminiscent of the light stone found on Bordeaux facades. Its own facade is made up of silk-screen printed glass panels and perforated, iridescent, lacquered aluminium panels. Changing with the sunshine or the time of day, the building dialogues with the river through its reflections: there are very close parallels with a wine’s constantly changing appearance. This very distinctive shape causes you to look at the river running past from a different perspective.
The ground floor is raw as an immersion stage diving into the project, a crossing point. The mirror reflections are disorienting and encourage visitors to move upwards towards the light. They feel this light on the courtyard then follow it through the structure until it finally explodes. There is no fixed route to follow, just worlds to discover.
The aim of the experience is genuinely to question rather than let alone. Sometimes the architecture steps back, in other places it reappears. The wooded arch of the permanent tour, the strongest area of La Cité du Vin, is like a varied sky. The sky is everything in winemaking, determining the harvest. This wooden sky rises, undulates and tightens. Once again, this is all about movement.
The wooden structure is reminiscent of a timber frame, of boats, of wine on its travels. It is an immersive break with reality, a world of roundness, fluidity and elevation approximating the wine experience. Visitors are in a discovery mind-set initiated by the architecture, which creates the right conditions for them to discover and complete this immersive, initiatory journey.