The practice went to Bordeaux to create a permanent exhibition and sensory experience dedicated to wine-making
Client: City of Bordeaux and Fondation de La Cité du Vin
Exhibition designer: Casson Mann
Size: 3,000 sq m
Duration: Five years
Words by Emily Martin
Images by Nick Guttridge / Casson Mann
Appointed after winning an international competition in 2011, Casson Mann has created a unique sensory experience that celebrates the story of wine. La Cité du Vin is in the northern French city of Bordeaux, famous for its wine production, and housed in a magnificent building designed by Parisian architecture practice X-TU as part of a permanent exhibition dedicated to the art, culture and commerce of wine.
The Buffet of Senses is devoted to delivering a greater appreciation of how wine develops
Spread across an oval floor space of more than 3,000 sq m, 22 large and small-scale exhibits feature interactive experiences that stimulate the senses – sight, sound, touch and smell. Responsible for conceptualising and art directing all elements of the permanent visitor experience (the centre is expecting some 450,000 visitors every year), as well as the audio-visual and media elements, Casson Mann has forged an ambitious scenographic vision and interior concept that is sympathetic to the form, materials and spirit of an innovative architectural concept of poured wine.
Casson Mann evokes the aromas and textures of wine in interactive displays referencing apothecary equipment and Victorian theatre, glass cloches, copper trumpets and atomisers, and digital media
‘We wanted to create a richly textured experience in which visitors can be inspired by wine in all its wonderful complexity,’ says Roger Mann, the practice’s creative director, and Gary Shelley, its design principal.
The process in which grape juice changes to wine is described by three pods that explore the different stages
With the exhibition devoted to audiovisuals and multimedia, there is little in the way of physical exhibits. Instead, the focus is on sensory elements to surprise, delight, intrigue and educate visitors, including a wide-screen film of spectacular helicopter fly-overs of vineyards, where visitors can literally smell the vines.
This huge installation explores the role of Bordeaux in international wine culture
Intimate galleries feature historical documents and artefacts that visitors can examine close up, and innovative displays that deconstruct the wine-making process and invite visitors to explore the colour, taste, feel and aroma notes of different wines.
This immersive installation explores centuries-old trade routes
Structured into themes, the ‘tour’ introduces the visitor to the rich symbolic and cultural capital of wine, and illustrates the ways in which its history, geography, geology, oenology, arts and commerce have shaped the world’s cultures and landscapes throughout history, from 7000 BC to the present day.
A widescreen film shown across three giant screens gives the visitor a bird’s-eye view of vineyard landscapes
‘While they [the features] are intended to form a narrative, the visitor is not obliged to follow a specific order, but is free to engage with whatever they find interesting’, say Mann and Shelley.
One of 10 rooms displaying images and artefacts from significant points in the history of wine
Designed as an ‘international experience’, Casson Mann also designed a visitor headset that serves up audio content in eight languages.
Magnum-size bottles, arranged like a wine production line, look at 21st-century wine stories
Unique in its off-ear design, the headset transmits audio while enabling the visitor to remain connected to the soundscape and the people around them.
Says Roger Mann: ‘Our vision was to create a richly textured experience in which visitors can be inspired by wine in all its wonderful complexity, and our aim has been to play with display design and technology to create variety and interest yet remain relevant to the subject.’
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