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Experiential Beer Garden Competition

A few months ago we entered a design competition, focused on creating an experiential beer garden in the shell of an old warehouse in the Italian countryside. We felt like the competition would be a good fit for us, as it involved our love of design, heritage buildings, Italy, and beer! Continue reading our concept statement and get an idea of what influenced our design approach.

exterior elevation

The Experiential Beer Garden of Villa Zarri, located in the heart of the Emilian countryside, supports a space for the celebration of the culture of beer while showcasing the surrounding region. The proposed design solution aims to establish a fully immersive experience for visitors, as the expression “from grain to glass” becomes a tangible display. The space promotes the act of gathering together to share in the experience, inviting raw social connections while indulging in both the product and surrounding scenery.

The design intervention intends to respect the existing building, maintaining the history of the site as well as the unique architectural qualities of the space. The idea of beer bubbles was explored as a source of inspiration resulting in the concept of transparency and exposures. With this idea of exposing environments in mind, the building was modified through the exaggeration of its existing structure.

interior central thoroughfare

Visitors are able to interact directly with each stage of the brewing process. Patrons are immersed in the experience through multiple touch points within the building and garden.

Visitors are channeled through a central entrance, which opens up into the atrium hall functioning as a multi-purpose space and extension of the tasting hall. The central atrium is flanked on either side by laboratories, immediately exposing visitors to the brewing process. The spaces are distinct, yet visually connected throughout, creating a cohesive and integrated beer tasting experience.

An elevated walkway surrounds the laboratories, allowing for diverse interactions between guests and the brewing process, sprawling views out into the adjacent garden, and exposing the connected spaces. Growing grains, exposing the beginnings of the brewing process, surrounds the elevated walkway. A large communal seating area is located in the center of the atrium, acting as a place for spontaneous social interaction. Exaggerated LED “bubbles” flow through the atrium, heightening the lively atmosphere.

The central atrium opens up into the tasting hall, equipped with dual bars and long communal drinking tables. Full height windows, dressed with linear vines of growing hops frame the view of the garden. The distinction between the interior and exterior is blurred through the use of the portico above the hall courtyard. The full service restaurant is located West of the tasting hall. The forms of the open kitchen bar and beer bar are derived from an abstraction of the patterns of the grains milled during the production of beer.

Modular market-style shops are located East of the tasting hall, showcasing various products of Emilia-Romagna. Natural materials such as wood, leather upholstery, concrete, hop vines and growing grains were used throughout as a gesture to the organic interactions created in the space and exposure of the existing structure.


We really enjoyed the process of designing for this competition, and we hope you found it to be engaging. Please take a moment, if you can spare it, to check out the finalists, and feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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