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Winery, Napa Valley, California, USA

Part 2 Project 2010
Tom Dobson
University of Huddersfield, UK
Sterling Vineyards is situated in the Napa Valley, between the towns of St Helena and Calistoga. Due to the quality of the wine and the unique location Sterling Vineyards has become one of the most popular and enjoyable wineries to visit within the Napa Valley.

The design removes the existing building, replacing it with an elegant proposal that enhances and expands Sterling Vineyards reputation as one of the world’s leading wine producers.

The site spreads across a large hill in the centre of the valley floor. The gradient of the hill provides a unique platform to view and admire the surrounding valley.

The scheme is split into two distinct areas that incorporate the production and hospitality facilities. The two areas are connected by a counterbalanced funicular that provides an efficient means of transportation.

The production area is positioned on the valley floor. The main design objective was to provide optimum conditions for the production, storage and despatching of wine. The form was driven by the production process, with the notion that grapes got delivered in one end and sent out the other as wine. This resulted in a linear form constructed from oversized exposed board marked concrete that provided a high thermal mass to maintain a naturally cooled interior.

The hospitality area incorporates private and communal wine tasting areas as well as a restaurant and boutique stay over rooms. This provides the opportunity for guests to stay a night in the winery whilst experiencing the locally produced food and wine. The board marked concrete façade treatment was continued throughout this area. Vertically and horizontally marked concrete was applied to distinguish areas and provide additional contrast to the façade.

The outcome of this project is a design that is highly functional and considerate, to visiting guests, working staff and the surrounding environment.

Tom Dobson


The post-graduate diploma folio is the conclusion of a year long quest comprising a collective body of work; preceding contextual studies, a written dissertation – ‘Alco-tecture’ … Can alcohol enhance one’s creative ability?’ and a design thesis – ‘Sterling Vinyards Winery, Napa Valley, California’.

A topographically informed cascade connects hospitality amenities at the valley brow and production facilities at the base, with a mediating event sequence and a contextually heightened awareness of being, imbibing a sophisticates reverence of the process of making, serving, and tasting the finest wines. The work is a rigorously comprehensive design exploration, and progressive refinement evolved through copious maquettes, explorative models, and experiential considerations, to create a composition of form, mass and process, from a reductivist material palette of texture, tactility, tectonics, concrete, light, and manipulated views.

This is not a cynically manipulated sequentially linear selling proposition. It is a highly refined experience where place, architecture, and event are intrinsically complementary. If the dissertation is about liquid lucidity and Will Alsop, then the design is about the moment of clarity and David Chipperfield.

Tutor(s)
Mr Gerard Bareham
Mr Jon Bush
2010
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