This huge bulbous building by XTU Architects creates a wine museum on the Bordeaux riverfront. Open since the end of May, La Cité du Vin is a major new tourist attraction for the French city, boasting cavernous exhibition halls and a 55-metre-high viewing tower. Its bulging body is designed by Paris-based XTU to evoke “perpetual movement”, referencing the action of wine swirling in a glass, as well as the continuous flow of the adjacent Garonne river.
The curved structure is clad with both silkscreen-printed glass and perforated aluminium, creating a mixture of shimmery, translucent surfaces, and gold and silver stripes. Legendre and Desmazières founded XTU Architects in 2000. One of their most high-profile projects so far has been the French Pavilion at the Milan Expo 2015, for which they created a curved wooden lattice. Some elements of this design reoccur inside La Cité du Vin – the building’s curved structure is supported by a series of wooden ribs that arch around the exhibition spaces.
There are 10 floors, creating a total of 13,350 square metres. As well as exhibition areas, these spaces include a “multi-sensory immersive space”, a reading room, three tasting rooms, a shop and three restaurants. These spaces surround around a central courtyard. A staircase spirals up around this courtyard, leading up from a dark, cellar-like basement to the top of the viewing tower, where one of the three restaurants offers 360-degree views.