Studio International

Published 25/08/2005

Above the Basque town of Elciego, Frank Gehry has hit the heavens again. This time, his proposed new hotel for Rioja, the winemakers, is a masterly symphony of movement and mystique. One-third of the budget is funded by the Basque government. Close to Santiago de Compostela, this masterpiece will give a new meaning to pilgrimage in the architectural sense. Gehry has been presented with wine to the tune of a 1929 vintage, which so happens to be the year of his birth. The link between architecture and wine is borne out. The actual colours in a bottle of red wine are picked up by a pink tone reflected in the metal structure. Silver, for the billowing roof cladding, reflects the foil that caps the cork on each bottle. Gehry's work also reflects the landscape contours surrounding the site more fully than on any previous building. The building is a synthesis of Gehry with the Basque landscape, and its product, a world-famous wine. This special affinity suggests that there may even be a third Gehry vintage in Northern Spain, not just a third glass to toast the collaboration.