Inspiration for any artist endeavor, or ANY endeavor for that matter, can come from the strangest and unlikeliest of places. This is not lost on architects Alejandro D’Acosta and Claudia Turren, the Ensenada, Mexico-based team behind the Vena Cava winery in Baja’s Guadalupe Valley, often called the “Napa of Mexico”. Why you ask; well, this winery is made almost entirely of old, recycled boats. This isn’t too much of a surprise from the same design team that most often find inspiration for they projects from random items in dumpsters, local factories, demolition sites and junkyards (much of it coming from the United States).
The Vena Cava winery is very sleek and totally modern, a good fit for the flourishing wine industry in Mexico . In fact, it’s one of the growing number of wineries designed to provide visitors a memorable experience visually, not just in terms of the taste and flavor of fine wine. The winery’s vaulted ceilings are made out of discarded boats salvaged from a nearby port — which make great ceilings since boats are designed to be weatherproof and water-resistant –, while some of the walls are decorated with discarded lenses from a local eyeglass factory. Plus, the Vena Cava incorporates various shapes and colors respective to the region’s natural landscape, enabling the building to blends in with the local environment.
The husband and wife team of D’Acosta and Turren have quite the passion for reclaimed materials, as they have secured a niche designing stunning, upscale wineries (completing five, with two more planned in the future) and other buildings in Baja. They are committed to minimizing the impact of their buildings on the Earth by getting their recycling and repurposing testing and strategy down to an artsy-yet-feasible science. D’Acosta says that “when you recycle a boat, or when you reuse an object, part of the original soul of the object is still there.” He also states that “you have to think about [an object’s] original use,” so you’d need to determine its strengths and how to take advantage of them and get the most out of what you have. For their remodeled Bodegas de Santo Thomas project, Mexico’s oldest winery, D’Acosta and Turrent used 22,000 tires — known for being strong and versatile — to build the retention walls.
D’Acosta says that “designing a winery is a lot like designing a factory. The structures have to accommodate a lot of specialized equipment to process the grapes and filter the wine. Even small details like the distance between the distilling equipment and the storage barrels can affect how the wine tastes.” He also states that wineries are also “social projects,” as they are a huge tourist attraction in Baja, so making them BOTH visually beautiful and functional is important.