The alteration project for the wine cellars of the wine “Unico”, by Vega-Sicilia in Valbuena de Duero (Valladolid), mainly consisted of renovating the space parting from a new conditioning system, lighting and services, and improving communication between different floors (staircases and freight lift).
The project required maximum rigor, leaving little space for improvisation or casualty. Every material used in the process should previously be analyzed to ensure they met the pertinent bacteriological requirements, to achieve an optimum conservation and quality of the wine.
The wine cellar consists of a ground floor and underground floor.
The project proposed the design of an undulated ceiling made of solid oak tree wooden slats which would bring together the three naves on each floor. This undulated surface solves the hidden introduction of air conditioning systems, allowing expulsion through the peripheral limits where the ceiling meets the walls, and creating the air return through the gaps between the slats of the central arch. The formal solution of the ceiling is applied on both floors, while the air conditioning systems are only necessary on the ground floor.
Each floor has two central rows of pillars, dividing the room into three naves, which are used to illuminate the space. Cladding two sides of the pillars with flamed granite and creating a space in between, backlit panels with stainless steel grids are introduced on the other two faces. The lights can vary in intensity to offer an optimum control over the illumination of space at every moment.
The hidden air conditioning systems in the ceiling and the lighting in the pillars were the basic project premises, followed to achieve a neat and clear space to receive the wine barrels.
As for the interior skin of the space, clinker type tiles were used as cladding for the side walls, fitted in a cross-linked manner, creating a resemblance with the existing floor. This way the floor and vertical faces in the warehouse become a ceramic U, covered by the undulated wooden ceiling.
The reception hall, between the exterior and the wine cellars, is conceived as a ceramic box with a ceiling formed by a reticula of stainless steel profiles which support opal glass panes through which this transition space is very tenuously illuminated. This ceiling is also used to allow the installation of all the air conditioning related systems above it. This access area includes a new staircase leading to the underground level, cladded in granite and becoming a sculptural element altogether. One single transparent glass pane acts as a railing surface on both levels.
Between this access and the cellars appears a new enclosure, consisting of an automatic sliding door of stainless steel structure lined with pompey red Corian panes, with the cellar’s logo incrusted in white, and an integrated backlight system which creates a light profile outlining the company brand on the great burgundy tone surface.
On the opposite side of the cellar we find the renovated freight lift, used to distribute the barrels, which is hidden behind automatic sliding doors finished with wooden planks of whitened oak. Using the same solution, the machinery and the access door to the contiguous warehouse also remain hidden.
Beside the freight lift is the second staircase going to the underground cellar, renovated using projecting steps with a stainless steel frame and solid oak wood tread, supported on one side by the side wall and on the other welded to the vertical rods which form the sculptural lattice/rail of “branches” which goes through both floors and is lighted up at the edge of the floor framework in between.
In its essence, the alteration project was begging for a reduction and simplicity in the variety of materials; the main protagonist of the project were the wine barrels, so the concept of the project must have been based on resolving certain technical requirements and new systems, dignifying the architectural finish and achieving a globally harmonic space, functional and elegantly sober for the sanctuary of one of the “unique”, excusing the repetition, best wines in the world.