Architects from Milan, Buenos Aires, New York and Paris are all interested.  There can be no doubt that Bordeaux’s Cité des civilisations du vin project has generated a passionate worldwide interest.
114 teams of architects and designers have taken up the challenge and become candidates in the competition launched in September by the City of Bordeaux.
The competition’s goal is to find the best design for the future
Centre of Wine Culture to be built facing the Garonne north of the city centre.  The teams represent 12 nationalities from Europe, America and Asia.

Renzo Piano in the running

Among the candidates are some firms with famous designs to their name, but whose identity, for the moment at least, remains secret. However, the name of one of the most brilliant designers where museums are concerned, Renzo Piano, has been mentioned ‘backstage’. Piano designed the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Paul Klee Museum in Berne.  Local teams are also in the running.

Philippe Massol, the future centre director, comments on the symbolic importance of such a showcase: “This confirms the emblematic nature of the project. It’s the first time a building entirely devoted to wine will be erected in the world’s wine capital.  News about the project has spread by word of mouth, which has had a very positive effect.  Today, more and more producers are working with well-known architects to design or renovate their vatrooms and cellars.  This dynamic approach has played a major role in our project.

Catherine Leparmentier in charge of public relations between the world’s great wine cities at the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce, has also perceived this keen international interest in the future centre.  She notes: “Porto is closely following the project’s progress, as is California.  This is not merely a local challenge for Bordeaux.  The Centre will have a universal dimension in the name of wine.

Five teams to be shortlisted

The jury, which will be presided over by the Mayor of Bordeaux, Alain Juppé, will not have an easy task on the 17th December. They will have to select five teams. Members of the jury will include city councillors, representatives from the project funders — Regional council, Urban community of Bordeaux, the Interprofessional Bordeaux Wine Council and other sponsors, together with qualified personalities.

For the moment, the candidates have not yet put pencil to paper. They have simply sent in their resume. Those soon to be shortlisted will imagine and design a centre to portray wine through a palate of ten different themes in a space covering 10,000 square metres.  The building, which will be located on the Forges site (old ironworks), just beyond the locks of Bordeaux’s wet dock, will have a 30 metre-high gazebo offering a panoramic viewpoint.

Once the list of specifications has been defined, the teams will be visiting the site from January onwards. Even if renowned architects are chosen, the €55 million budget remains tight as it includes scenography. The imagined structure will be built in an area of the city currently undergoing radical urban transformation.  Opposite the future museum, there will be a vertical-lift bridge linking the Bacalan (left bank) and Bastide (right bank) districts with two impressive supporting piles facing the Centre’s panoramic gazebo.

The winning design team should be nominated during the month of May. The Centre is planned to open end 2014.