Rupert and Rothschild – New Classique Winery

Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons was started in 1997 and today, is a well-established, premium international brand. The challenge for this intervention was to develop an architectural responsive, process driven, contextual appropriate cellar, to be completed in time ready to receive the grapes for the 2017 harvest season.

A brand new cellar, referencing vernacular elements, but clearly defining it as a contemporary reinterpretation, done with an industrial palette. The client’s specific winemaking philosophy was carefully integrated in the process design of the new winery. Great emphasis in the design was placed on ease of use, integrating state of the art equipment, without losing the durability of simple function.

The aim was to challenge the industrial factory aesthetic, usually associated with a cellar of this scale, while maintaining a practical, very constructible cellar, which most importantly, can be implemented in the allotted time frame.

Concrete wine tanks, rarely seen in new South African wineries, was one of the elements perfectly blended with the architectural and engineering disciplines.

Fulton Awards 2017 before construction image

For this idiom to be successfully interpreted on this scale the only workable methodology was to make use of a pre-cast concrete-framed structure, allowing the construction to start in the precast factory and on the ground simultaneously. The architectural intent and overall neatness of pre-cast framed structures would not have been possible with standard techniques. The pre-cast concrete elements not only assisted in accelerating the overall construction time, but also enabled the roofs to be erected, start with layer work for floors, masonry infill and process installation, so that the overall time schedule could be achieved.

Without these technologies, competent engineering solutions, dedicated contractors and overall a client willing to explore a nonstandard construction system, this project would not have been possible in the given time frame.

The decision to construct the building’s structural frame in pre-cast concrete was made right at the onset of the conceptual design phase, and it was driven mainly by the demand to deliver the completed, operational cellar before 15 January 2017. The Architectural features of the structure would be best met using a medium which could give beautiful concrete finishes and enhanced detail.

The success of using pre-cast concrete for the main structural frame as well as other elements, such as the fermentation tanks, layed in the early engagement of all the relevant role players in the design development process, consequently guaranteed the input of each specialist and to capture that in the design. Of utmost importance is that each role player: Client, Architect, Contractor, Specialist Subcontractor (precast), Engineers (structural and process), etc., will then buy into the concept and deliver upon that.

The new Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons Classique winery project is a perfect fusion of function, architecture and engineering.