Known for the eponymous wine it produces, the territory of the Jurisdiction of Saint-Émilion – composed of eight villages and their vineyards – was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, as a cultural landscape.
The design unveiled by the British architect Norman Foster shows a desire for it to respectfully blend in with the gently rolling hills around. The tarracotta-tiled vaulted roof presents a timber structure with a 40-meter diameter, with angled beams resting on each other. This results in a column-free space and 360-degree views of the vineyards. Natural light also enters through a ceiling oculus 6 meters wide. The base of the circular-plan building will be executed with concrete.
Partly buried to reduce its visual impact on the place, the volume has two levels, and two ramps – one outside, the other inside – connect them. Visitors are shown the different stages of winemaking, which is taken to the heart of the building. From any level, the round atrium also allows views across to the other.