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Olafur Eliasson and Studio Other Spaces' multi-hued glass pavilion for Californian vineyard

Colourful glass panels in the shallow cone of a wine-tasting pavilion reflect the natural surroundings of Donum Estates that inform the wine-making process

Studio Other Spaces’ 14m pavilion is the latest artwork to grace the Donum Estate.
Studio Other Spaces’ 14m pavilion is the latest artwork to grace the Donum Estate. Credit: Adam Potts

What Vertical Panorama Pavilion
Where Donum Estate, Sonoma, California

 

Opening last month, Olafur Eliasson and Sebastian Behmann’s Studio Other Spaces’ new pavilion is the latest artwork to grace the sprawling California vineyard of client Mae and Allan Warburg; whose aspiration is to fuse the art of winemaking with art itself. But unlike the clients’ 50 works by the likes of Louise Bourgeois, Tracy Emin and Ai Weiwei, this has a function – as a wine tasting pavilion for the estate’s visitors.

The estate clients wanted the piece to speak about the conditions that bring about the wine itself, so looked to the meteorological data and empirical information on the soil that informs any wine producers’ knowledge base of the terroir they are working with. ‘Ground conditions and orientation are fundamental,’ Behmann explains. ‘These, as well as the amount of rain and sun, and wind strength and direction, affect the final decisions for how the wine will be produced, blended and even stored. Each colour in the canopy glass relates to one of these variables, so in a way the pavilion is a slice through everything that is happening on the site.’ So each of its 832 panels intimates the complexity of their inter-relationships.

Working on such an isolated and beautiful site, the firm obviously considered the use of timber for the pavilion structure. However, the desire to keep the timber structure slim to enjoy the glass meant the steel joints were making it look over-engineered – which pushed the practice towards a completely stainless steel structure instead. SOS created the 14m-diameter canopy from a mix of circular and square hollow sections mounted on a base ring beam, which transfers the load down onto pin joints sitting atop 12 thin columns.

The colours represent physical and meteorological effects on wine production.
The colours represent physical and meteorological effects on wine production. Credit: Adam Potts

The hollow steel sections together form a spiral brace for the canopy. Brace sections start at 60mm in diameter but decrease to 30mm as they ascend, shifting in section at every second joint – around every 2m length of steel. The design was optimised in Grasshopper before being 3D modelled and sent to the fabricator in Germany as cost precluded it from being manufactured in the USA. Having been temporarily pin-jointed to allow it to be transported, the structure was reassembled  in the US, pins removed and the whole thing welded.

With heat gain an issue in the California climate, low-E laminated glass was specified for each of the 832 panels that make up the canopy; the silver tint that this gives the glass complements the stainless steel says Behmann. A scale model was also put through a wind tunnel to optimise the cooling effect of the prevailing south westerly wind, allowing any heat build-up under the canopy to exhaust through the north-facing oculus at the pavilion’s top.

In a way the pavilion is a slice through everything happening on the site

  • Glass panels are held in a 3-sided aluminium cassette, so rain can be channelled into a small ‘U’ section.
    Glass panels are held in a 3-sided aluminium cassette, so rain can be channelled into a small ‘U’ section. Credit: The Donum Estate/ SOS
  • Stainless steel sections were pinned in Germany and then welded in the USA.
    Stainless steel sections were pinned in Germany and then welded in the USA. Credit: The Donum Estate/ SOS
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SOS wanted to keep the interface of glass to steel simple and to avoid any silicon joints. This led to the individual glass panels being framed in aluminium and then pinned to the bracing structure via a custom-made U-channel detail that SOS developed with the fabricator. This allows the pieces of glass just to be dropped in next to one another without overlapping, keeping panels’ colour ‘pure’, while also allowing the canopy to drain efficiently without leaking. With tolerance also built in at this point, they are able to move relative to each other during thermal expansion and contraction; a seemingly ‘loose-fit’ approach to what is in fact a highly engineered pavilion structure.

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