CHERNYAKHOVSK – Alliance-1892 produces and supplies Russian brandies to both the national and international market. As the country’s top brandy producer, the company needed a building that could do more than simply store the famous product in the basement out of sight.
Moscow-based studio Totement/Paper has optimised the design of the company’s distillery as a symbol for rebirth, demonstrating the role of the plant in city life. In addition to its primary function – storing brandy barrels – the warehouse is able to accommodate meetings and guest receptions, as well as incorporating a small museum, tasting room and viewing platform.
The underground nature of the facility created an opportunity to develop a symbolic architectural ensemble: ‘The distillery is one of the main production facilities in the region and [as a rule] there is a large, unused area of front of this type of building,’ says the architect. ‘The decision to combine the storage with a museum for the public was made jointly with the client. A plan was developed for the improvement of the territory with a park and a museum – now it has become one of the region’s main tourist attractions.’
The sculptural nature of the building’s form detracts attention from the otherwise vast, open space that surrounds it. Instead, two monumental figures announce the presence of the distillery, without hesitation, as if communicating not only the facility but its importance to the area. The objects appear to interact with one another in a way that resembles two allies, described by the architect as ‘bodies twirling in a dance’.
The project is imagined as two objects – a man and a woman – in partnership. The lower, timber-clad structure serves the warehouse and remains close to the earth. This is the woman; she bears and protects. ‘It is bound in the earth tightly,’ says the architect. ‘It grows into it, it grows from it and it preserves the birth in it.’ The taller, metallic structure reaches for the sky and contains the public aspects of the programme. This is the man; he is open but rigid.
The space between them is orchestrated as if the two figures are engaging in a flowing movement. Despite the connotations of expressive freedom, the steel-framed structures are angular and geometric in form, almost as though built from a two-dimensional net cut out from a sheet of paper.
Plan – Level 0
Plan – Level -1
1. Entrance / 2. Terrace / 3. Performance Space / 4. Viewing Platform / 5. Tasting Room / 6. Storehouse Halls