Matera is a quiet town in Italy known for its houses that are dug into intricate rock formations. “Sassi” is how the Italians refer to them, which is the Italian word for stone. A Sasso is a typical expression of Matera architecture. It’s a space carved out of the side of the mountain, carved out of the very rock the mountain is made from, in this case dating back to the Palaeolithic Age. Matera, situated by a canyon and steeped in history, now has a particularly contemporary wine bar to add to its credentials. Enoteca dai Tosi started out life as a competition. Five esteemed architectural studios duked it out for the honour to design the three-level winery.
Architecten De Vylder Vinck Taillieu won the coveted prize and it’s clear why. If the objective was to bring life back to Matera and inhabit the Sassi once again, their design has been executed with tasteful restraint and cultural diffidence. The space has been so gracefully designed and articulated, it’s as though it was brought to life through the cautious mining of an archaeological dig; carefully hand brushed into existence as the original space revealed itself. But it wasn’t, of course. Whilst the design is differential to the original architecture, it is an entirely new interpretation of the space. The stairs are made from the local tuffo stone and flow throughout the space. The stone seating is in rows, modelled on the original amphitheatres. They act as communal spaces to reconfigure as needed to sit larger and/or smaller groups, to share wine and conversation.