The architectural intervention in the winemaking estate known as El Tancat, located right in the middle of the Montsant Natural Park, recovers the old agricultural production buildings of the Carthusian Monastery of Scala Dei, in order to convert them into the small Hotel & Winery, Terra Dominicata.
The landscape architecture project for the exterior spaces was carried out with the utmost respect for, and with the willingness to preserve the surroundings, the architecture and the customs of the nearby towns. The materials, the colours, the vegetation, the textures, as well as the construction techniques used, are inherent to the place and to its historic and cultural heritage.
The architectural layout of the complex housing the different pre-existing buildings resembles a small town with just a few houses. Every one of the individual places that are created among themselves, and all around them, have some unique features in terms of size, orientation, relation to the surroundings, new functions, etc. As is usually the case in rural communities, a place name has been assigned to each one of them for the purpose of orienting the guests and visitors and, in turn, aims to create emotional and cultural ties to these revitalised spaces.
The Calm Retreat “El Racó de la Calma” is a small patio, encircled by walls and buildings which, interesting as it is, did not have a defined use prior to the intervention, due to the steep slope of the interior flooring. The project reclaimed it as an access area to various rooms, located on three different levels. It is organised by means of green lattices made from steel mesh (an abundant material found in the region´s landscape which is used in the construction of fencing and trellises for training grapevines) and also has jasmine vines planted on it. These trellises shape the small exterior areas and the access areas to the bedrooms, which in turn give privacy to the customers. In terms of the construction of both the flooring, the steps, the railings or the wall cladding; these were created by using materials such as manual bricks, lime render, or metal railings, with all these materials being used according to the local architectural practices.
The Balcony of the Cypresses “El Balcó dels Xiprers” is a crescent-shaped space facing the main building which looks out onto the landscape of the Priorat vineyards. This vantage point, belonging to the hotel´s new restaurant, contains a large green pergola built solely out of metal railings, in the same way as the trellises are used by winegrowers to train grapevines. The plant used in this case is wisteria, it grows robustly, it is deciduous and it´s flowering is spectacular. During the summer this plant is used to provide shade in many southern-facing gardens in the Mediterranean.
The Priorat Garden “El Jardí del Priorat” is located opposite the main entrance of the hotel and its shape was formed by respecting the existing terraces and dry-stone walls. At the same level as the entrance, a small vegetable garden housed in wooden boxes has been provided, to serve as fresh produce and aromatic herbs for the hotel’s restaurant. On the upper terrace more than a dozen species of plants native to the Montsant natural park have been planted, with the aim of helping to conserve and improve the biodiversity of the environment.
The Entrances “Els Portals” are each and every one of the entrances to the different buildings. Because the shape and the layout of the 25 bedrooms of the hotel remained in their current proportions, many of the entrances to the bedrooms are accessed from the outside, as if they were entrances to the houses of a small town. As a welcoming gesture, and as a privacy measure, clusters of plant pots, containing a large variety of plants, have been positioned at these entrances in keeping with the deep-rooted tradition of nearby towns such as Escaladei.
The Olive Grove “El Camp d’Oliveres” was and will continue to be an olive grove, the only difference being that now it has been made compatible to accommodate car parking for the hotel. The canopies of the olive trees have been reshaped to keep away the lowest branches, a blanket of gravel extends outwardly which permits the transpiration of the land and the flow of cars. Bay leaf trees have also been planted at the edges of the terrace to provide security and to obscure the cars from view, from the road.
The Pond “La Bassa”
The swimming pool of the hotel (“La Bassa”) has been conceived as an agricultural water deposit, which has been raised in relation to ground level and has been built with ceramic materials from the region. It is located at the edge of an agricultural terrace respecting its boundaries and existing topography thereby achieving a visual and emotional connection con el magnificent winegrowing landscape of the Priorat.
The project not only puts forward ideas and configurations of spaces and areas that are in harmony with the landscape, but also applies this intention to the construction techniques. It regains and promotes the use of the methods utilised in the layout of the Priorat´s agricultural landscape such as dry-stone walls or metal trellises for training grapevines. Local ceramic materials were also used in the flooring and staircases which were manufactured using local technologies. All of these techniques have been carried out by professionals and craftsmen from nearby towns, thereby strengthening the personal and cultural link to the Priorat landscape.
In addition to artisanal techniques, state-of-the-art processes concerning other aspects, such as environmental sustainability have also been applied. With that in mind phytodepuration systems for wastewater, drip irrigation systems and rainwater tanks for irrigation, as well as light flow dimmers to minimise light pollution have been installed.
– Recovery of the agricultural, historic and cultural heritage of the local landscape.
– Respecting the existing topography, minimising the affect on the surrounding environment and reducing the generation of residues from earth moving to zero.
– Use of traditional ceramic materials manufactured in the surrounding area.
– Use of construction systems and local labour.
– Taking advantage of stones from old agricultural terraces for the construction of the new dry-stone walls, which create the boundaries and the newly adapted access areas.
– Filling the pond and supplying the watering system from rainwater collection tanks and water originating from mines and the estate´s own wells.
– Wastewater treatment by means of a natural system of phytodepuration ponds and its posterior return to the existing river system.
– Minimising exterior lighting and incorporating light flow dimmers so as not to affect the local wildlife of the natural park.
– Recovery of the Montsant Natural Park’s native vegetation.
Project location: Morera del Montsant, Tarragona
Design year: 2017
Year Built: 2018/2019