Sunken in the South of France: Renzo Piano Completes New Gallery for Château La Coste

The Italian architect joins a star-studded list of architects who’ve built on the world-famous winery.

Sydney Franklin Sydney Franklin

Renzo Piano is the latest architect to build on the world-famous vineyard of Château La Coste in the south of France. The futuristic wine producer offers a stunning 500-acre escape where wine, architecture and art live in harmony with nature. The Italian architect has designed a sunken 285-square-meter [3,100-square-foot] art gallery for the site, joining the ranks of Tadao Ando, Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel, who have built there before him.

© Ateliers Stéphane Aboudaram ï WE ARE CONTENT(S)

© Ateliers Stéphane Aboudaram ï WE ARE CONTENT(S)

Dubbed the “pavilion of photography,” Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s inaugural project at Château La Coste sits 20 feet below ground amidst patterned rows of grapevines. The structure cuts straight into the horizontally plowed vineyard with its roof canopy — a sail fastened to thin metal arches that mimic the layout of the grapevines — suggesting the full height of the construction.

© Ateliers Stéphane Aboudaram ï WE ARE CONTENT(S)

© Ateliers Stéphane Aboudaram ï WE ARE CONTENT(S)

© Ph. Maurits Van der Staay

© Ph. Maurits Van der Staay

According to RPBW, the canopy is designed to resemble a kite as “the sail flies and lands, emphasizing all at once the lightness and horizontalness of the building.” The subtle structure rises unassumingly from the vineyard, disrupting its natural setting in the most elegant and pure form.

Lengthy exposed-concrete retaining walls line the ramp leading up to the structure where visitors can step into the galleries inside. The building holds 160 square meters [1,700 square feet] of exhibition space for art and photography to be displayed. Natural light illuminates the interior as it seeps in through the glazed façades.

© Ateliers Stéphane Aboudaram ï WE ARE CONTENT(S)

© Ateliers Stéphane Aboudaram ï WE ARE CONTENT(S)

The pavilion also doubles as an additional dedicated wine preservation space for Château La Coste with massive wine cellars surrounding the gallery.

© Ateliers Stéphane Aboudaram ï WE ARE CONTENT(S)

© Ateliers Stéphane Aboudaram ï WE ARE CONTENT(S)

Visitors can access the new construction from the château’s reception building via an elongated path that rises toward the pavilion’s retaining walls. At the rear of the structure are an outdoor sculpture garden and water mirror that reflects the full width of the project.

© Ateliers Stéphane Aboudaram ï WE ARE CONTENT(S)

© Ateliers Stéphane Aboudaram ï WE ARE CONTENT(S)

The pavilion’s first exhibition “The Sea and the Mirror” by Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto will be on display until September 3.

Images via Renzo Piano Building Workshop

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