exterior historic building and winery

In Austria, Destilat Design Studio Transforms a Dilapidated Estate into a Chic Home and Winery

After restoring the property’s splendor and dignity, the architects melded living and working, pleasure and design, past and future.

“The design brief called for as little design as possible,” says Henning Weimer, a partner at destilat, the architecture and design firm responsible for integrating old and new on the Gut Wagram property. The requirement matches the client’s viticulture philosophy, which rests on naturalness and purity. The Vienna and Linz–based studio responded with a design concept that sensitizes the eye to the delicate nuances of material aesthetics by promoting clarity and haptics through a restrained color palette.

In Lower Austria, a 43,000-square-foot complex sets the historic flair of Gut Wagram’s manor house against the sleek minimalism of a new organic winery creating a blunt, but pleasant contrast. 

interior winemaking facility, stainless steel casks and suspended tasting room
A suspended tasting room sits in the modern wine-making portion of the facility.

“The aim was to restore [the main house to its] original state, make history visible, and connect it with something new in an understated way,” Weimer says.

Two elongated gabled houses—one of which is a restored original highlighted by washed bricks—form the winemaking facility’s outer shell. The historic building, which stores the wine, has been expanded to include a new building for delivery and production.

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Gut Wagram is the Meierhof that belonged to Castle Winkelberg, now a ruin that occupies the hill above. A Meierhof is a farm or building where the administrator of a noble or ecclesiastical estate would have lived.

The connecting element of the two buildings is a steel and glass construction that tapers towards the inner courtyard. It houses the tasting room, a cube of black steel that’s suspended from the ceiling.

The interior is awash in subtle shades of gray and comprises a vaulted cellar, a loft-like reception area featuring exposed concrete, a kitchen in aged spruce, and an office. Polished cement, anthracite-colored fiber cement, and raw steel complete mix of historic and modern materials.

Opposite the commercial buildings, connected underground by a newly created corridor, the residential building exudes charm befitting its historic past.

Weimer clearly remembers the moment he saw the mansion for the first time. “The structure of the building was catastrophic. The ceilings and cross vaults had collapsed, the roof structure was rotten, and it rained in. It was imperative to bring this old substance back to its former glory,” he says.

After the building was gutted and dried out, the roof was recovered with period-correct, salvaged tiles. The facade was left mostly unchanged, supplemented only by balconies on the top floor, while the interior was completely re-done.

interior winery showing bar and cement walls
The modern winery is a spare, minimalist space defined by concrete and glass.
historic building joined to new building by glass and steel structure
A glass and steel atrium connects the historic and modern buildings.

The revitalization focused on authentic construction materials and handcraft techniques. Antique herringbone, panel parquet, and old, tumbled travertine was laid on the floors. Based on the nuances of the exposed frescoes, experts painted the walls and ceilings with restrained colors using the traditional brush-on techniques.

The original box-type windows have been restored and fitted with glass that diffuses light but gives a blurred, indistinct view to give an appearance of age.

In addition to antique finds for the interior, Weimer also tracked down an old, already dismantled village well in Upper Austria, which was rebuilt as the center between the winery and the house and connected to a water supply. “As the clients also hail from the region of Upper Austria, it was a nice touch that we were able to bring a piece of home into the project,” Weimer concludes.

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