There is a long-established tradition for wine making on the island of Cyprus. This goes back more than 5000 years, from when the first settlements appeared on the island. A great deal has changed in the meantime but, wine remains a significant constant. One of the latest additions to the list is the set upon a promontory, above the remote mountain village of Kalopanayiotis. The Lampadistis winery is a deliberately heavy object that has come to perch on the exposed site. Designed by the office of Eraclis Papachristou Architects, it is a thing once simple, ceremonial and weighty.
The Lampadistis Wine Distillery serves as an illustration of how a strong concept leads to a thorough solution.
On the slopes of the mountain village are several churches that very much follow the tradition for steep, tiled roofs. A variation on the theme is provided by the churches of the monastery of St John the Baptist, referred to as Lambadistis in this case. This is not one church but three in a row, providing three noteworthy cylinders protruding from its rough, stone walls. The tiled roof above these seems to float above the main body of the churches as a result of the clashing geometries. It was one of the places the architect visited the first time he went to site, knowing that the proposed winery would be utilising the name and reference of the specific church amalgamation. So, the three cylinders became the three phases of wine production and the volume above them was placed to hover, despite its apparent weight, in a similar fashion to the medieval original.
This is a part of the language that allows the building to locate itself within its context. It does this not only through geometry but also scale, resting with confidence upon the rugged promontory of the mountain side. It is a statement not only of itself but about itself. The awkward nature of the structure, so often stopping short of completion, has the effect of reaching into its context rather than being an internalised conversation.
The machine that rests below, the industrial language is sheathed in solid, thick, textured walls. The finicky detail of the industry, its shimmering surfaces are held by something exceedingly solid. An exoskeleton in béton brut.
Against this the interior is a much warmer and more intricate event. The massive ceiling, defined by strong geometries that rotate about the three core drums (where the stages of wine production are housed) are in reclaimed timber, from a massive forest fire that struck the island several years ago.
In a similar manner, concerning scale, the elaborate but simple balustrade and shading layer that defines much of the main level is derived from the stonework traditionally employed in the village below. The tile wedges used between the granite stones have been reinvented. Their open geometry allows for the development of an interweaving pattern which is set within an open metal framework.
All these elements have been aligned, in effect along a linear path that leads from the mountain side to the very heart of the process. A first plateau narrows to a bridge that hangs awkwardly above the considerable drop, before turning sharply to find itself within the building.
The weight of the ceiling is enhanced through angled posts and three glass cylinders, light elements that would seem incapable of dealing with the weight above. The expanse of the main floor, dark and reflective, is then punctured by the wells of the drums, which house the preparation, the maturing and the consuming of the wine.
One looks down upon the impressive, industrial machinery and the scale, the proportions of everything change. What was solid and sure is now alive and humming, at least so the image suggests. The unexpected drop into this level charges the experience with a modern magic.
Eventually one must depart. One must move on. But the experience, the images and the textures have a tendency to cling. Pieces of the building, perched so definitely on the mountainside, still cling to you.