By Irina Vinnitskaya
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Copyright Matteo Danesin
The Nardini Grappa Distillery was completed in 2004, designed by Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas in Bassano del Grappa, Vicenza, Italy – the first impressions of the complex are two otherworldly inflated disks hover over a pool of water. Supported on stilts, the glass and steel envelope reflects the water below. Visitors stroll over paths that criss cross over the pool. A descending ramp leads into the 100-seat auditorium below, forming a natural canyon. Underwater lights illuminate the surface, creating a shimmer across the grounds of the distillery and reflected in the floating volumes above.
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The effect of the complex makes for a sublime experience. Most of the surface below the building is untraversible. The water clearly sets up a boundary and guides visitors to various points of the complex. The two volumes that float over the pool are research center laboratories. The submerged volume, accessed by the exterior ramp or the internal stair houses an auditorium.
The procession between above and below is amplified by the passage through the surface of the water. It appears to be just a few centimeters deep from ground level, but once visitors descend into the submerged volume below it becomes clear that it extends for several meters.
The geometery and material choices of the submerged space is big contrast to the those of the laboratories above. The material shift goes from one that is airy, transparent and fine to heavy and solid. The geometry also shifts from one of clear form to the geometric and spatial complexity of the passages and spaces below. The consistency of material within these individual spaces creates a unified reading of the space.