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Apr 06

Architecture and Wine

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 600 views

In a region better known for its grapes, the owners of the wineries (or bodegas) of northern Spain have turned their attention to front-of-house impressions.

The Marquis de Riscal’s new bodega and hotel at Elciego in Rioja is perhaps the most daring. Designed by Frank Gehry, it resembles a gayer Guggenheim with pinkish fins and sparkling curves. It’s not finished yet and all the more interesting for it, allowing an eye into its construction.

In the Simpsons, Springfield erects a Gehry building; a conventional structure attacked by wrecking balls to knock out the angles. Not too far from the truth! Underneath the skirts lies the geometry; all girders and supports, a corset to hold it together.

On the road past the bodega, a car lay bashed in a ditch. The consequence of building an incongruous building by a busy bypass? After the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the Los Angeles Concert Hall, Gehry is becoming a one-trick pony, but it’s still a decent trick.

Down the road in Laguardia lies Santiago Calatrava’s sparkling Ysios bodega. The building is glass-fronted with a choppy-waved roof and sits atop a bump in the landscape. Spring-blue skies bounced zig-zag shadows over the vines. A wedding erupted from inside. The entrance hall gave a more critical assessment, a reality of drips and buckets.

Architecture attracts architects. In Bilbao, Gehry built the museum, Norman Foster the metro (a first draft of Canary Wharf) and Calatrava added a bridge and an airport. Now everyone wants a go at a bodegas. Richard Rogers is next and, hot on his tail, Norman Foster has one too, both in Ribero del Duero.

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