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Bordeaux’s ‘Guggenheim’ unveiled

Bordeaux’s answer to Bilbao’s Guggenheim was revealed this week – drawing comparisons to a decanter, wine swirling in a glass and a ‘giant thumb’.

The futuristic Wine Centre, plans for which were unveiled in Bordeaux on Monday, will be designed by Parisian architects X-Tu, with London company Casson Mann working on the interior.

The two companies, selected from among 113 candidates, will start building in early 2013, with a completion date set for 2014.

Project director Philippe Massol told Decanter.com, ‘We selected the most spectacular building. It reflects the sensual side of wine, and is in harmony with the river which it will be built alongside.

He added that the building would be ‘environmentally sound’, built out of wood and glass, ‘which themselves are materials used in wine’.

The Wine Centre was first announced in June 2009, and despite chronic financial setbacks faced by similar projects such as London’s Vinopolis, Adelaide’s National Wine Centre and the bankrupt Copia in Napa, the Bordelais are confident that they have a different approach.

At the time, Bordeaux mayor Alain Juppé, called it ‘a necessary tool for structuring an entire economy’.

He said, ‘There will of course be a cultural aspect to the site, explaining the history of wine, but it also will be a tourist hub for guiding visitors to the region and hospitality centre with restaurants and bars. There will be office space for companies in the wine industry.’

The 10,000m2 building will have a three-tiered main section and a tower topped by a panoramic viewing platform. The building’s skeleton will be made of wood, covered by two layers of glass, and the upper level covered with photovoltaic panels.

Costs are estimated at €55m, with 400,000 paying visitors expected each year.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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