The wine-production company Otazu began its activities in 1991, continuing the activities of an old plantation, from XIV century. The vineyards occupy a surface of 92 ha, and are surrounded by mountain ranges that protect the valley, creating an ideal microclimate for grapes cultivation. The new wine cellar, located inside the vineyard, was built in 1997 unifying tradition, modernity, and beauty.
The wine cellar, projected by the architect Jaime Gaztelu Quijano, and the engineer Juan José Arenas de Pablo, is one of the most puzzling spaces of the architectural complex, not only for the structural innovation of the rib vault, but also for the fascinating appearance from another era that still can conserve despite the using of a contemporary material as concrete.
Built with a solid plan view U-shaped, this new structure is open to the valley, maintaining the old wine cellar which construction is dated in 1860, as the main building for the company representation.
Those three elements are surrounding a central yard which hides below the ground the wine cellars, where 3000 225 liters oak-wood barrels are placed.
This great underground lounge is a 54x54m square, divided in 9 identical 18x18m areas, from where the 5.4 meters tall rib vaults are organized. Each rib vault is the result of intersecting two parabolic guidelines vaults, so the structure results to be the ant funicular of the gravity loads. It has to be underlined, also the surprising slender of the vaults, with only 22cm on the keystone, and 33cm in the arisings.
For compensate the horizontal pressure, the foundations had been reinforced. The concrete, which had not been covered by any element, transmit a warm sensation thanks to the horizontal pine boards which had been used in the formwork. The contour lines created, also helped by the subtle finishing works of the concrete, underline the parabolic guidelines. It could also be said that the concrete appearance could be an extrapolation form the barrel boards, fossilized, creating a cave.
The cave appearance can also be observed in the remarkable fact that the vaults begin in the floor, from based located in the four corners of the square element. Those bases are also the perfect place for the ascending illumination which vanish the ground and creates the delusion of a flying vault.
It should be point also that the architecture is not only aesthetical and economy in the use of materials; but also the functionality. The vaults, with the terrain that covered them, isolate the barrels, creating a perfect climate for the wine production, avoiding extreme temperature or humidity changes.
As conclusion, the words of one of the authors deserve to be reminded: “The slender concrete vaults of this cellar create such special ambient, addition of response and tranquility, that its description can only achieve a pale reflect of the reality. Born from robust but delicate pedestals, these vaults transmit to a casual observer every single sense associated to the human space: from the telluric perception derivate from the arising from the ground, to the curvature which the human mind relates to a residence in the natural caverns. The two vault families define the intern volume plenty of unexpected collateral spaces which varies continuing the observer movement, turning the visit into an unforgettable experience”.