Stanojević / New patterns of visitor-space dialogue in contemporary wineries

New patterns of visitor-space dialogue in contemporary wineries

Author: Ana Stanojević, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture, University of Niš, Serbia

Supervisor: Branko Turnšek, Ph.D., Full Professor, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture, University of Niš, Serbia; Aleksandar Milojković, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture, University of Niš, Serbia; Danica Stanković, Ph.D., Full Professor, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture, University of Niš, Serbia

Research stage: Ph.D. research level, Early Research Stage

Category: Paper

Throughout history, architecture has represented a significant socio-cultural benchmark and a non-verbal tool for creating an appropriate narrative. In the traditional sense, introducing narrative into the architectural design process contributed to forming a solid collective memory and generating an urban experience (Tseng, 2015). The correlation between the built environment and the user’s perception has become the subject of many studies developed around the architectural narrative since the second half of the 20th century. As narratives have spatial associations, the architecture of the buildings can tell a story (Bloomer, 1993). Architectural narrative creation is often linked to public-use buildings. Usually, cultural and historical buildings or revitalized ones can tell people about the history of the place, specific purposes, evolution of use and technologies. Nevertheless, a multiple-layered language must be developed for storytelling in architecture (Wallace, 2007).

Many authors discussed approaches and elements which participate in architectural narrative production. Szpakowska-Loranc (2019) recognized quotations, metaphors, time disturbances, rhythm and narrative perspective as literary and architectural narrative elements. Coates (2012) differs three main models of architectural narrative: binary narrative - an architectural theme that is apparent and easy to understand by users at first sight; sequence narrative - a story created by joining different spaces by users’ walking route; and biotopic narrative - the spectre of storylines on the broader area, mutually independent but at the same time connected. The architecture uses its material and immaterial characteristics to create a narrative (Di Mascio & Maver, 2014). According to the same source, material architectural elements which can determine narrative are: used constructive systems, applied materials, colours, light (natural and artificial) and shadows, and different types of decorative elements. Immaterial elements obtained spaces and spatial units of different shapes, dimensions and partitions positions, functional organization and layout, and horizontal and vertical paths to connect spatial units. All these elements participate in architectural experience production. Additionally, buildings are examined with their historical and cultural context, which can significantly influence narrative formation (Marcus & Cameron, 2002).

The contemporary architectural narrative is based on a specific functional organization and composition making. The author conveys an appropriate message to users and/or bystanders, developing a metaphysical and semiotic spatial-architectural "language" and interactive communication. The spatial configuration and geometry of a building can affect users' perception, which can further create place meaning. The space in the user's eye opens and closes, hides, affects the creation of mysticism during movement or reveals the connection of spatial levels from specific points within the facility. Thus, in the design process, architects can play with spaces and forms to stimulate appropriate visual experience and spatial exploration and make the relationship between conceptual and perceptive highly dynamic (Psarra, 2009).

Towards narrative conceptualization of contemporary wineries

As wine culture has always intrigued people and was the subject of interest, different spheres of art, including architecture, have created a narrative around wine as a social phenomenon since ancient times. Wine symbolises culture, tradition, and longevity, especially given the time and patience needed to transform grapes into wine. Thus wine spaces are often understood as temples of wine and are threatened with great respect in society.

Wineries represent a specific typology of industrial architecture, developed by evolving along with economic, social and technological changes related to winemaking and the wine culture. Although historically, they were for a long time built in the form of wine cellars, as part of different complexes or as individual buildings, many 20th-century processes shifted the architecture of wineries from primarily production plants to public facilities (Harea, 2019). Industrial production has improved, and globalization has changed its character while the range of users and producers has increased (Anderson & Pinilla, 2018). Hedonism, art, the research for innovative concepts, the number of consumers and the highly-developed wine market articulate the sociological phenomenon of wine and wineries as places of production. The affirmation of the wine tourism sector has become a significant trigger for transforming the wineries’ concept, primarily due to the introduction of visitors into the winery space (McGregor & Robinson, 2019). That has led to the creation of new design paradigms of contemporary wineries.

Apostrophizing the presence of visitors in the winery area initiates changes in the contents and spatial organization of the winery (Virtuani & Zucchella, 2008). Tasting areas, sales, catering facilities and accommodations oriented towards visitors form a new range of functions that pervade the industrial premises. Wineries are no longer isolated industrial buildings but hybrid architectural entities that connect wine culture, heritage, production, people and tourism. By adding new components to the original production purpose, the winery's space establishes a connection between the wine and the visitor (Thornley, 2021). The movement of visitors through different spatial levels becomes a motive for defining the design concepts (Woschek et al., 2012).

Design paradigms of contemporary wineries have transformed the industrial space from a closed function to a dominantly publicly accessible exhibition space by transposing the concept of production into a unique architectural experience. Further, the technological process becomes part of presenting a wine through direct insight into the production. That is a new dimension of hedonism, which intrigues the visitor (Bouzine-Chameeva & Durrieu, 2010).

The winery's space mediates the wine and the visitor as a new user. Users' architectural experience and perception of wineries are the issues of a few studies, predominantly bachelor's and master's (Emeney, 2016; Nightscales, 2011; Warren, 2016). There needs to be more understanding of the spatial connection of production and public spaces of wineries into a unique architectural composition that will be attractive and authentic in the function of the visitors' experience. Most of the existing empirical studies examine the relationship between offered tourist activities and verbal tour storytelling with the behaviour mechanisms of visitors concerning preferences towards revisiting and buying the product (Frost et al., 2020; McGregor & Robinson, 2019). In creating a non-verbal narrative that can become a powerful tool for initiating the "appropriate" emotions and sensations of visitors as users, the existing studies hardly recognize wineries' architecture. That was the crucial motive for the research proposal.


This research represents a part of the doctoral dissertation "Vision, context and perception - the architecture of contemporary wineries between conceptualization and realization", which tackles the issues of new design paradigms of contemporary wineries. The paper is focused on architectural patterns of the dialogue between visitors and wine space. The research methodology is based on a design-driven research approach. The methodological framework is separated into four phases: 1) Theoretical recognition of architectural narrative concept and its elements; 2) Analyse of project documentation of selected contemporary wineries; 3) Identification of narrative approach models and spatial models based on visitor-space dialogue in contemporary wineries. The analysis of project documentation and classification method is used to identify narrative approach models and spatial models for creating a narrative. The empirical method is applied in the theoretical background when defining the concept of architecture narrative.

The spatial models are defined by determining functional organization principles and architectural composition creation. From a more significant number of analyzed wineries, the selection was narrowed down to a sample of 250 buildings. The wineries included in the deeper qualitative analysis are selected based on following criteria: 1) they are built after 2000; 2) they are oriented towards visitors; 3) they are built in block system (functional zones are connected).

By using project design documentation, the contemporary wineries are analyzed from the aspects of:

  1. Connection of the production area and tourist area in order to identify the spatial relationship between these two functional zones,
  2. Planned visitor's routes&paths and viewpoints through the building in order to identify if the visitor-space dialogue is based on physical or non-physical interaction,
  3. Type of architectural elements involved in creating a spatial connection between visitor and wine space.

Identification of the most common narrative approaches in contemporary wineries

Analyzing the project documentation of selected contemporary wineries three the most common approaches in creating narratives are identified: wine terroir narrative, reference to history narrative and journey through wine space narrative.

Narrative approach model 1: Wine terroir narrative

In order to respect the inherited natural values of vineyard landscapes and the tradition of winemaking, many architects choose to create a narrative using the local context as a leitmotiv, by adapting the newly built structure to the existing characteristics of the environment. A complete visual fusion of the volume with the surroundings is achieved by forming the green roofs and neutralizing the new structure in the existing wine landscape (Franz Keller winery in Germany, Antinory winery in Italy). In the phenomenological sense, the accent is placed on the wine ambient. The concept of merging with the environment arouses the users' curiosity. It provides a specific architectural experience by using a scale narrative, gradually revealing the outline of the winery as visitors approach it.

Narrative approach model 2: Reference to history

Many contemporary wineries were built near former wine cellars or wine caves, initially used for winemaking but abandoned due to technological improvements and the need to expand capacity. These old wine areas are often transformed into wine museums and become part of the tour route when visiting the new winery [ 1 ]. Wine caves and cellars often become part of new wineries and retain their purpose of storing wine until maturation [ 2 ]. In this way, references are made to the wine past to create a continuity of architectural meaning and nurture traditions.

An old wine cellar in winery Jović, near Knjaževac (Serbia) - today wine museum 
Source: photo of author (taken 3rd of June, 2022)

Figure 1: An old wine cellar in winery Jović, near Knjaževac (Serbia) - today wine museum Source: photo of author (taken 3rd of June, 2022)

Wine cave in winery Živanović in Sremski Karlovci (Serbia) - today wine museum and area for wine maturing 
Source: photo of author (taken 15th of February, 2023)

Figure 2: Wine cave in winery Živanović in Sremski Karlovci (Serbia) - today wine museum and area for wine maturing Source: photo of author (taken 15th of February, 2023)

Narrative approach model 3: Journey through wine space

The most common narrative approach in contemporary wineries is the architectural design of the movement of visitors through the building, i.e. through the area intended for wine production and creating an architectural experience using form, materials, and functional organization [ 3 ]. This design approach is based on the application of sequence narrative to gradually convey the story of wine and its production by moving through the premises of the winery.

Walking through winery Djurdjic near Sremski Karlovci (Serbia) - the glass wall between production and visitor area: left-view from degustation hall to fermantation tanks; right - view from fermentation hall towards visitor entrance and degustation table. 
Source: photo of author (taken 15th of February, 2023)

Figure 3: Walking through winery Djurdjic near Sremski Karlovci (Serbia) - the glass wall between production and visitor area: left-view from degustation hall to fermantation tanks; right - view from fermentation hall towards visitor entrance and degustation table. Source: photo of author (taken 15th of February, 2023)

Case study of Zuccardi Winery in Argentina

For this paper, the case study of Zuccardi winery in Argentina is selected as a representative example. Zuccardi winery is an excellent example of creating an architectural narrative concept in a contemporary winery design project. From the primary narrative approach perspective, model 3 was recognized - a narrative created by moving through the wine area. Analyzing the ground floor plan of the winery, it can be concluded that the area intended for visitors, which includes the entrance hall, souvenir shop, wine bar, conference hall and restaurant, relies on the functional area intended for wine production. Regarding the planned route of movement of visitors, three characteristic points within the facility were identified, which indicates that during the design, the emphasis was on creating a dialogue between the visitor and the wine area [ 4 ].

Patterns of visitor-space dialogue in Zuccardi winery 
Source: Based on 2d plan of functional organization and photos taken from

Figure 4: Patterns of visitor-space dialogue in Zuccardi winery Source: Based on 2d plan of functional organization and photos taken from

In creating the narrative, the form and geometry of the space, circular movement, and pedestrian bridges physically separated from the production space were used. Point 1 represents the access point to the production area. A narrow passage surrounded by high walls arouses the visitor's curiosity and motivates him to move on, creating a sense of mysticism and uncertainty. The first two spots create the narrative through physical interaction and direct visitor access to the production area. Point 2 is part of the route where visitors move along the footbridge alongside the wine tanks, and the space is open, easy to read and visible. Point 3 represents the final point of movement through the production area - access to the tasting hall from which it is possible to view the area for maturing wine in barrels. There is no direct physical interaction between the visitor with the wine, but their relationship is immediate, using a glass wall.


The conducted research deals with patterns of dialogue between the visitor and the wine area in the facilities of modern wineries. The research results indicate three distinctive narrative approaches in conceiving the architecture of contemporary wineries: wine terroir narrative, reference to history narrative and journey through wine space narrative. The most common approach is the creation of a narrative using an appropriate functional organization, form and materials. The selected case study served as an example of the analysis of spatial models based on the visitor's interaction with the wine area. Using the existing drawings of the facility, it is possible to identify the character of the contents, the position of the contents and the position of the functional zones. In contrast, the interior photos were used to identify the elements that participated in creating the narrative concept. The project documentation can be a good input for analysing the movement of visitors through the space of the winery to identify specific points of interaction.

Given that the research is in an early stage, the following phase will include summarizing the results of the complete analysis of all selected winery facilities and classifying the spatial models of modern wineries based on the visitor's interaction with the winery space. Verification of obtained models will be done by survey analysis and collecting visitor preferences. The gained survey results will be used as input parameters in determining the guidelines and recommendations to design the contemporary wineries.


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