Château Margaux
Nigel Young / Foster + Partners Château Margaux


Foster + Partners has unveiled new facilities for Château Margaux, in Bordeaux, France. The vintner—famous for its 1815 neo-Palladian castle designed by Louis Combes as well as its premier cru wines—first approached Foster + Partners to consult on a master plan for the estate in 2009, and celebrated the opening of the new facilities and renovated historic structure on June 15.  

Château Margaux axonometric sketch.
Foster + Partners Château Margaux axonometric sketch.


Foster + Partners conceived of the master plan of the estate as a farming village, with the Combes château surrounded by modern-era wine-making facilities that include a visitor center and an underground vinothèque. The scale of this project, a mere 262 hectares (647 acres, or just over a square mile), is a departure from the airports, spaceports, and city-scaled master plans the firm has recently undertaken. The winery building, dubbed the Nouveau Chai, extends from the east wing of the historic Combes structure. Branching columns support a pitched roof clad in found terracotta tiles to complete the composition of the estate. The triangulated roof structure concentrates loads into 12 tree-like columns, beneath which are the modernized wine production facilities and an open-air gathering space. Skylights cut through the eastern side of the roof allow morning daylight to illuminate the production area. 

Château Margaux
Nigel Young / Foster + Partners Château Margaux


"This design has been inspired by the character of the existing estate, and what Bernard Rudofsky called 'architecture without architects'—the vernacular architecture that embraces everything from windmills to bridges, and the wonderful heritage of the 'big barn,'" founding principal Norman Foster, Hon. FAIA, said in a release. "At Margaux, I was inspired by a communal lunch in the open space under the great roof of one of the structures during the grape harvesting. By investigating ruins elsewhere on the site it was possible to recycle enough tiles to create another major roof in the same vernacular. The new winery is rooted in the technology of today and the best of these traditions – it is of the place in both the culture of the local architecture and the industry of wine making."

For more images and information on Château Margaux, visit ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.