Coffee, Tea, or Wine? The Future of the Airport/Vineyard Hybrid

Coffee, Tea, or Wine? The Future of the Airport/Vineyard Hybrid

I’ve been through my fair share of regional airports in my lifetime, but they all blur together in my mind into one mass of delays, bad coffee, and low-key existential dread. Perhaps a glass of wine would change all that – classing up the place as well as making it more memorable… That’s part of the rationale behind a wholesale transformation of Florence’s Amerigo Vespucci Airport, which, thanks to American firm Rafael Viñoly Architects, will soon boast a green roof that will also serve as a functioning vineyard!

The announced plan is actually a full reimagining of the airport. They intend the 19-acre, 38-row vineyard to cover a central plaza modelled on the traditional streetscape of Tuscany, the Italian region of which Florence is the capital.

“The sloping green roof entirely dedicated to vineyards will be by design intentions an ‘ode to the Tuscan winemaking tradition,’ designed to be functional and productive. In fact, according to the designers, ‘the vineyards will be cultivated by a leading winemaker in the region and the wine will be produced and aged in specialized cellars under the roof of the terminal.’

Structurally, complex engineering and careful consideration of factors such as weight distribution, drainage, and wind load will be essential to support the vineyard. In addition, the microclimate of a rooftop is very different from that of a traditional vineyard, with problems of heat, wind, and proximity to aircraft.”

That “proximity to aircraft” part has some critics concerned, as the information the architects have made available doesn’t address the significant pollution that planes generate, and how it could affect or even enter the grapes. One imagines a thorough environmental assessment is in the offing – it would be great for them to make the results public when and if they come in. If, and only if, I’m guaranteed a clean wine, then this could definitely be a refreshing stop on my next Italian vacation!