LOCATION: Tlacolula de Matamoros, Oaxaca. YEAR: 2016-2017
Los Amantes distillery is located in Tlacolula de Matamoros, in the valley of Oaxaca, this region is recognized by his mezcal production. The project has an area of 3,500 square meters distributed in 3 levels placed in a 10 hectares maguey seeding.
In the materiality of the project we can notice the profound significance of natural origin material; stone, wood, bamboo and terracotta, these ones have at the same time a harmony with industrial materials, such as concrete and steel. The stonework is made of pink quarry with lime-sand mortar with local workforce. The walls have a thickness of 70 cm which allows thermal control inside the building, providing a pleasant environment for workers and visitors, the cover is a traditional gabled roof whit handmade clay tiles, resembling the local traditional covers. The complex brings together traditional construction techniques and modern construction and structural systems.
The whole architectural complex is integrated in the landscape by the materiality and the tectonic form elected; colors and rural textures interact with a contemporary architectural solution. One of the stronger bets of the project was to incorporate handicraft work both to produce the mezcal and for the building itself. To achieve this goal, visits were made to different Mezcal’s producers of the region to learn about the manufacturing process of this traditional beverage. This knowledge allowed to choose the materials to use for the construction as well as the conception of the spaces.
Inside the whole architectural complex, besides the distillery and maguey field, we can find an elevated tank designed by oaxacan artist Luis Zarate, a wood-fired oven and an alembic for mezcal production.
The complex enjoys wonderful sight to prehispanic vestiges of Yagul and the mountains that surround the valley. The building is in the middle of the 10 hectares lands, to take advantage of the visuals of the environment, together, with the elevated tank and the maguey fields it all become a scenographic frame in the middle of the landscape. In the side plan we can notice the intention of join the elevated tank, the pit of the land and the local water storage tank with a conceptual water line.
Inside the building we discover a set of heights that allows the user to perceive different spatial sensations. One of our main concerns was to combine two different moments and uses; the artisan process with its particularities, times and materials and the occupation of visitors that includes the realization of events. A mixed use between workers and visitors, the distillery becomes a museography and didactic journey through the traditional elaboration of mezcal to get this we create different tours for visitors and one for workers. If we choose to enter through the cellar we have the sensation of emerging from the ground through an access ramp, once inside, we discover the barrels that age the mezcal and a space for tastings sessions and meals at the end of the tour we are surprised by a triple height that connects us with other spaces of coexistence. In the north façade it was decided to create an area of coexistence solved with wooden decks and water mirrors that allow to enjoy the sunset next to the fields of maguey. Upstairs we have a double terrace that can host different events: exhibitions, tastings sessions, among others.
Parallel to the construction of the main building, we can find the alambics made of baked brick, these space work in two stages: the first distillation with stainless steel vessels and the second distillation with copper to eliminate the toxic nitrates, we choose to build a saver wood oven with an innovative brick vaults system and natural thermal insulations based on salt and glass.
The use of organic material and traditional process don’t be a limit for the technological innovation.
The construction began with the basement, which is the cellar of fermentation and ageing, almost 3 meters under the ground level, this space allows the conservation of the perfect temperature to preserve the mezcal, and includes a sprinkler system to avoid the evaporation of the liquid. Subsequently we continue with the basement of the entire complex with masonry strip foundation along 87 meters, once the basement was over we start with the pink quarry masonry walls these ones were reinforced with concrete columns to guarantee the structural safety of the building. The slab of the upper floor was made of welded I-shape beams with wooden planks that support a concrete firm. The structure of the roof is a particular form of bamboo with plywood covered by asphalt waterproofing and handmade clay tiles. This type of structure is flexible and very suitable for seismic areas such as Oaxaca.
The main objective being to reduce as much as possible the environmental impact beginning for the construction until the last step in the mezcal production. Is then used organics resource and so traditional construction systems. More of that the building include different system to respond at the main objective to care about the environment like: a rainwater harvesting system that stores water for later use. An elevated reservoir for gravity-fed irrigation during the dry season, reducing the use of fuel to pump water. Gray and black water treatment plant which combine the organic waste of the mezcal production (all these elements are integrated into a unique system of biodigestors this allows to clean the organic residues, avoiding the contamination of groundwater). In addition, the energy demand of the distillery is satisfied through solar panels located in the roof of the building.
The project bets on the handcrafted production as a method of humanization of the architecture. In every stone, brick and bamboo, in every square meter of building, we find the skill of the main stone-cutter, bricklayers, carpenters, blacksmiths and other persons who reached for the successful materialization of the project.