Place: Saint Julien de Beychevelle (Bordeaux), France Program: Tasting room and belvedere (panoramic point view)
There is now a tower overlooking the countryside in Saint-Julien Beychevelle, at Gruaud Larose. The tower is 69 feet tall, has an overhang, and is built in a harmonious style with right angles. It appears enigmatic when seen from afar. While it was being built, some people said that it would be the tallest palombière (wood pigeon hunting hide) in the Médoc.
The owners of Château Gruaud Larose asked Bordeaux architects Lanoire et Courrian to design a new building to house a visitor reception center, boutique, and tasting room. The project consists of a rectangular parallelepiped building 150 by 30 feet set into a natural slope. This building houses a visitor reception center with plate glass windows on one side overlooking the park and on the other side looking out onto the vines, both with a ground level view.
The mineral and vegetated roof of this concrete structure rises up from the slope as though it were an extension of the grounds. The 69-foot-tall observation tower overlooks this pedestal-like building located at its extremity that fits in so well with the park. The appearance close-up is very attractive, featuring two staircases decorated with a mirrored polish finish, stainless steel mesh pattern providing access to the platform on top of the tower, which sparkles and reflects the surrounding landscape.
Traditionally, the high point of visits to the château was the panoramic view from the tower encompassing the Gironde estuary and the entire Gruaud Larose vineyard, located in a single block around the château. The observation tower perpetuates this magic moment for visitors thanks to a 360-degree view available due to automated shutters that open up all along the periphery. When closed, these mirrored polish finish, stainless steel blinds blend into the façade. The tower thus seems very mysterious and luminous at night, like a lighthouse in the vines.
This sensual project is embedded in the Médoc gravel, taking off toward the vines and the sky, with a view of the vines, the prestigious Gruaud Larose estate, and the estuary.