text by Ana Asensio
In the timeline of a building are many different lives, and each one paves the way for the next. The same constructions, the same landscapes are interpreted in different ways at different times; experienced, at the end of the day, under other circumstances. Within these lives, as well as going through different functions, transformations, abandonment and rebirth, different psychological associations are experienced: nostalgia, disregard, inferiority complexes or great hopes. What’s important to know is that this line, with all its material and emotional baggage, leads up to today and if broken, makes it impossible to speak of a “place” in its entirety.
To construct from memory is to include these phases whilst not being bound to them; it is to understand the former logbook, despite being on another journey. It’s to grasp that starting from scratch is not so hard if we remember where we have come from.
The CRUX architecture studio, in this project situated in the town of Los Pedrones, in Requena (Valencia), has worked on an intervention which shows deep respect for the preceding emotional implications of the space, aware that a new phase is beginning, which is inevitably linked to contemporaneity. The “Dussart Pedrón Winery” is the new space to come out of the rehabilitation of a familiar, old structure with numerous former lives.
The current space, of 156m2, was originally a barn, an elongated volume on one floor with a large patio attached. Later, it was converted into a storehouse, using the barn as a warehouse and filling in the adjacent patio to create a space on a second level, from which wine was produced and pumped into the storehouse tanks. In the 60s, upon creation of the town cooperative, the winery stopped producing wine and converted itself into a warehouse. Today, its descendants have come from France, leaving their lives behind, in order to rescue the family winery which their great-grandfather began one day in the distant past. Simultaneously, they are also rescuing the production of wine which had been abandoned.
As is commonplace in small towns and villages and rural settings, there is a pejorative view of self-identity: forms of subsistence, the intangible heritage, passing through the constructed surroundings. As the architects say, “generally, value isn’t attributed to the local, unique culture. In spite of this, the Dussart Pedrón family have renounced their “stability” in France to return to the town and take on this project, unlearning this “shame” in regard to what is native produce and place value on this heritage.”
This premise was key when taking on the project: on the one hand, the architects were aware of the value of both the material and sentimental heritage of the place, which counteracts the usual, undervalued view of popular architecture; and on the other hand, aware that memory is a living entity which cannot be dissected and exhibited, but rather used, transformed and improved.
“In this way, we understood that our proposal had to be another line in the history of the place. Our task was two-fold: to make this new space productive, keeping in mind the current wine production processes and health and safety requirements which have changed considerably. At the same time, we felt the need to preserve the footprints of the building and maximise its potential by using the constructive technology of our time.”
The intervention uses the passing of time like another construction material, without hiding the scars. In this ‘territory space’ the new installations have been placed, using easily identifiable materials of the times. The original structure has been revised, acting with each element in a personalised way. The roof has kept its original corrugated structure, upon which a water treatment system has been placed, tongue and groove wooden slats have replaced reeds and the tiles washed and put back in their original place. The north face, still showing the traces of its farmhouse past, has been kept this way, with its peeping gaps and cracks. On the lower level where the family began to produce wine over one hundred years ago, one finds the brick wall where the original stores were kept.
Upon this regenerative canvas the entirety of the new program is based, contained within three related spaces. At ground level, outlined by the entrance on the east side, one finds the original expansion dedicated to production, through which two other rooms can be accessed. These rooms are situated on two levels on the western nave: the basement, consisting of former concrete tanks has been converted into the wine cellar, taking advantage of its thermal inertia for the barrel ageing, whilst the first floor is used as the receiving area for the grapes; combining the restrooms and laboratory and a new opening which perforates the stone wall.
These levels have been redefined based on a reinforced concrete structure which consolidates and reinforces the construction, allowing for the new purpose. The stairs and lifts are situated in the middle, surrounding the principal pillar and creating a central area. The new walls are made of white plasterboard, which have been positioned like a perimeter wall surrounding the space, integrating the restrooms and making the surfaces washable for the appropriate functioning of the winery. In the space between these two elements one finds ‘mood lighting,’ which enhances the texture of the walls and the curves of the ceiling, but which simultaneously highlights the separation and distance.
This intervention represents a layer upon construction, just skimming the surface, like a reversible installation which at the same time provides a blank page from which to begin again. This project of CRUX architects is one of continuations and coexistences which understands, in a subtle and close way, the added value of the wear and tear of time as a part of the path of today. The project looks with equal respect and care upon what came before and what is yet to come.