This provocative wine tasting room set along the cliffs of Lavaux, Switzerland evokes the centuries-old terraced landscape it celebrates. The monolithic volume on the northern shores of Lake Geneva extends from the earth and add to the grapevine’s habitat on its roof. The area has long been heralded as a mini-Mediterranean for its balmy micro climate, which is perfect for growing grapes, and stone terraces have been developed for hundreds of years to tame the steep cliffs. Fournier-maccagnan Architecture’s contemporary design sits quite comfortably in the landscape with a shimmering, abstracted, and pixilated grape vine veiling the large view window.
The design scheme integrates the tasting rooms into the land, emulating the rocky cliff where grape vines enjoy the warm and moisture-laden air. The multi-level building has few exterior clues as to its use. The concrete walls use a new system which emulates the aged character of the landscape. Local stone is set in the concrete, and the surface is scratched before setting up to give the walls a rough, natural finish. This handmade exterior is a reflection of the copious stone work in the region.
La Tonnelle’s small entrance to the street opens to a blackened, minimally lit stairway. The narrow stairway and corridors, evocative of a cave or the path of a vineyard, open up to a daylit room ringed with shelves of wine. A smaller tasting room to the side is where the design comes together. The large windows are covered in a metal mesh screen into which artist Daniel Schlaepfer inserted thousands of golden metallic tiles that become a pixilated grapevine when viewed from a distance.
With the room’s interior lighting as a back drop, the screen becomes a prominent symbol of the building as it glows on the hillside in the evening. By day, the screen shimmers with a cool organic touch, softening the building’s blocky profile. The screen also adds intimacy to the tasting room and prevents the hot sun from overheating the space. Below is a small theater which presents the grape growing culture and history of the region.
Photos © Thomas Jantscher