Chicheng County is China’s ice wine country. Some 200 kilometres north of Beijing, and well east of the nearest city of Zhangjiakou, the mountainous landscape shelters a valley that abounds in vineyards. In this wintery yet bucolic microclimate, where snowmelt nourishes rows of sun-kissed grapes, the new MHC Ice Wine Centre emerges as a seemingly organic extension of its natural surroundings.
Hong Kong’s O Studio Architects have devised a unique piece of winery architecture that celebrates both this landscape and the winemaking process. The facility carefully integrates technically complex, climate-controlled spaces into an aesthetically sophisticated ice wine showcase that hosts an extensive program of tastings and events.
O Studio took advantage of the sloped site to bury part of the building’s footprint into the terrain. The cellars, specifically, are set into the earth to maintain an appropriately cool and dark environment. Meanwhile, visitor amenities and winemaking spaces are situated above ground. To sculpt the building’s distinctive, crystal-structure form, the designers began with the goal of “making the building a view finder” onto the great outdoors.
The architects used generative design to configure the 900-metre-square structure, with the picture windows facing the valley serving as the main input. From there, the architects carved out a sinuous shell that responds to that vista.
Comprised of a matrix of white steel frames, the MHC Ice Wine Centre’s shell reads as a soft and organically contoured presence from afar – one that gently blends in with the winter snow and stands out dramatically against a green valley. But up close, the rounded steel silhouette registers as a more abstract, gridded form that cloaks a simple and rectilinear building envelope.
The snow-white exterior is a stark and appealing contrast to the warmth of the blond wood interiors. A comfortable, opulent atmosphere pervades inside, with the tasting room arranged to highlight an elliptically framed view of the landscape. It’s a sumptuous way to take in the terroir – accompanied, naturally, by a glass of ice wine.
O Studio Architects have crafted an ice wine centre that celebrates the distinct terroir of Northern China.