A development project for a wine region in the mountains of southern Armenia

Urban design



The vision is based on the definition and enhancement of all that is valuable. The project is executed in stages and always through the careful acknowledgment of the valued properties of the area and the life that belongs to it. The Areni landscape’s stark beauty brings to mind an image of a mega sculpture: grandiose yet ornate with intricate detailing. Almost devoid of forestation, alien-looking sepia mountain masses interrupted by gentle pastoral scenes are reminiscent of Hakop Hakopyan's romantic minimalist paintings. His works are devoid of saturation: the palette is dusted, ascetic, and silent, as is the surrounding nature.

Areni’s sculptural topography and natural relief will become an agent of the design process and inform all the design decisions: from choosing a site for a winery to infrastructure development. The project aims to enhance the sculptural appearance of the landscape and let it shine forth through the creation of well-conceived scenery spots.

The project will be designed around the natural shape of the Areni landscape, both physically and symbolically. It emphasises its character and its natural splendour. The story of the region is narrated through the landscape just like it is narrated through historic buildings and monuments, tales and legends.

The tripartite (landscape, skyscape, humanscape) vision is to be actively implemented in the design approach. A cohesive and very detailed design code unifies all the elements of the newly-built and recycled architecture with local vernacular architecture and the landscape itself. The design code prioritises local materials and craftsmanship for authenticity.

In-depth research of all the abandoned buildings in the area determines the scope of new construction but there is a strong suggestion to rely heavily on reconstruction and reuse. Currently, Armenia has a large number of abandoned buildings, many of them of high aesthetic and material quality. There is a need to make an extensive account of all the buildings subject to recycling and prioritise it over new construction.

The form of the new architecture is tight-knit to the local tradition: from the ancient caravan huts to Armenian modernism, statement architecture seamlessly integrated into the landscape is native to this area. The peaceful world of stone, reminiscent of Hakop Hakopyan paintings, generates a unique architectural language through the use of primal forms and local materials — basalt and smooth grey concrete.