Loisium Hotel and Wine Center – Steven Holl

The day before we left for Munich back in June, we visited Loisium about an hour outside of Vienna in Langenlois, Austria by one of my favorite architects, Steven Holl. I’ve long been an admirer of Steven Holl’s work, but this is the first project of his that I have seen in person, and it didn’t disappoint. It is a wine center and hotel located right in the middle of Austrian wine country where the context is vineyards and older building stock.

The project has a lot of typical phenomenon associated with Holl’s work, and deals with light in various ways. The wine center has series of vertical cuts through the facade, some skinned with a green glazing that brings light into the building resembling beams of light that reflect and refract like light through a glass of wine. The walls of the center are lined with cork to bring the full affect of wine into the building.

The project is a series of masses. The hotel room mass is lifted off of the ground and screened by a metal mesh panel, with public areas enclosed with glazing underneath. The wine center mass is firmly embedded within the ground, with its angled form recalling the growth of vines in the vineyard. The wine cellars and access to them are then firmly embedded under the ground, completing a procession from above ground to below ground throughout the site. This idea of procession comes from the notion of staying at the hotel, then going to the wine center to buy tickets for the tour and to eat, then taking the tour through the wine cellars, then being led back to the wine center for a free glass of wine and wine tasting (pretty good I might add) then heading back to the hotel at the end of the day.

Overall I was impressed with the project, and it certainly lived up to my expectations. I had know about the project for some time, and knew it through precedent studies and books such as Parallax (by Steven Holl). I was able to see how is thoughts on phenomenology manifest themselves in the design of the project and that further increased my knowledge on a subject that I have been deeply interested in for some time. The only critique I have on the project is that some of the details (such as water pond on the path towards the cellars, which has a great light play at the end of the cellar tour) that aren’t quite as complete as the rest of the building, but that may have had to so with possible maintenance work.

Originally posted August 28, 2010 on previous website.
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Josh Mings

Architect and painter. Columbus, IN born, New Orleans educated, Chicago living and trying to leave the world better than I found it.