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Today, rural building complexes that were built to house the agricultural activities of the surrounding area stand neglected. This is a result of the forces at work in the productionorganization revolution that have shaped the farming world over the last century.
These complexes were developed as a functional unit in which a farmer’s living quarters, work and storage areas were combined in one consolidated cultivation process based on proven end effective methods. Today, many of these buildings are no longer structurally sound and their continuing deterioration puts them at risk of total collapse.
The restoration of these buildings, in many case urgently needed, reflects and bears witness to the various types of structures required throughout their history.
However, the need to restore these buildings comes into direct conflict with their lack of distribution capacity to deal with the problems inherent in a new production structure.
Due to the differing aspects of the restoration concept, these problems are many complex.
Restoration aims not just at preserving history and certain types of buildings; it also defines the “penetration” of a functional framework that requires the specific and uncompromising organization of space within a distribution structure that is equally rigid and inflexible.
It is a quest to balance the various elements of the two problems/realities; a solution that refuses to sacrifice any of the historical-architectural elements of the buildings yet at the same time does not limit the effectiveness of their correct use.
Sansonina is an important example of these architectural dichotomies.
Imposing because of its size, the lay-out of its volumes, the very simplicity of its structure is its strength and it offers an enduring image to anyone passing through this landscape that has been so violently ravaged by the motorway.
This symbolic mansion, inhabited for generations, conceals behind its doors all the experiences of the society that lived off the land and around which it developed. It was a precious refuge for the families who lived and worked together in a restricted space, worn down by the grind of their daily routine. The spaces, construction elements and building types developed a specific form in direct response to functional needs rather than to the recognized architectural styles of the time.
Yet today, when we consider a renovation project, we base its parameters on the architectural style of the time.
My aim in this project was to do neither this, not to carry out a “tonal” project in which the faithful reconstruction of the existing types of buildings results in a complex of “rebuilt originals”.
I believe that the concept of the new use to which this complex will be put, i.e., a winery, should not recreate anachronistic forms. On the contrary. Its spaces should respond to current production issues, free from any new institutionalized style. This is the idea behind the construction style of the nucleus that will replace the demolished part of the complex.
In a seemingly casual way, the various copper facades enclose the missing volume, forming the roof and the sides. They abandon the traditional aspects of the building, creating instead a sort of distorted form that is provisional and mutable and demands a dynamic interpretation.
The sense of completion, the finite, the fixed, is replaced by a lightness and flexibility that, with minor adaptations, will enable the building’s structure to accommodate potential future requirements.
The entire project revolves around the nucleus that contains the key functions, i.e., the vinification and crushing processes, where the enormous wine vats require a huge amount of space.
The lay-out of this spaces in which movable crushers are fixed to a suspended platform is designed to channel the must directly into the vats via a vertical drop system.
Vast underground spaces accommodate the ageing cellars where the wine is matured in barrels and bottles, the bottling line, and the storage and forwarding areas.
Gaps in the floor covering this underground area allow the light to penetrate and enable the creation of small gardens at cellar level.
By contrast, renovation of the remaining parts of the complex is functional and uses materials in keeping with the originals and with the transformation of the vertical connection systems. The original systems were destroyed as a result of the various collapses over the last 10 years and the rebuilding of the wooden ceilings that were beyond repair. This project is designed to maintain a great structural simplicity with no pretensions. The fluid connection of the different spaces in both the vertical and horizontal dimensions allows the full use of the entire complex. It also permits the functions of each different area to be adapted as the company evolves.
Today, a hospitality area is requisite for the increasingly demanding and knowledgeable public that is navigating the wine world with growing interest. To this end, several spaces have been set aside for wine-tasting, meetings, a restaurant and overnight accommodation.
There spaces are organized to best meet the needs of a hospitality that is highly in tune with the growing needs of the market.

Arch. Giovanni Bo