Urban Winery

At first glance, a winery in Houston does not sound like an appealing design proposition. For one thing, proper terroire is required to grow quality wine grapes – a feature hardly attributable to the state of Texas. This requires that the majority of the grapes be grown off-site and delivered to the facility. Even so, this project challenges the status quo by bringing the winemaking tradition to a city where craft beer is king. Wine culture, after all, is considered a mark of fine living, and an emblematic winery would certainly bring new character to the Bayou City.

The building would be located in Houston’s Midtown district – a favorite night life area dotted with flower shops and banh mi restaurants. Midtown is separated into residential and commercial areas by the US-59 freeway, which has resulted in the development of two distinct city grids. These grids ultimately converge between the freeway and an exit ramp, forming the uniquely-shaped, residual space where the project is situated.

The plan for the building is derived from a strategy of bisecting lines, which define regions within the site’s pentagonal profile. These subdivisions inform folding operations that are the primary means for organizing program. The result is a project with multiple orientations. The event space, for example, provides a view of downtown Houston, while the wine bar and sorting areas look out toward the undeveloped greenscapes of Midtown. Through these views, the architecture of the winery reveals the urban diversity of Houston.

Professor: John Casbarian