Xige Estate by Saussure Architects: 2020 Best of Year Winner for Winery

Photography by Feng Shao & Heng Li.

The northwestern Ningxia region has long produced China’s most critically acclaimed wines. Now the stunning Xige Estate, located at the foot of the Helan Mountains near the Yellow River, joins the area’s well-regarded wineries, which specialize in Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Surrounded by vineyards, Saussure Architects’s enormous 269,100-square-foot complex, which is encircled by a massive wall built of local Helan stone, is much more than a winemaking facility. Incorporating 22 guest rooms, an organic restaurant, events space, oak-barrel wine cellar, tasting room, and library, it also functions as a sophisticated hospitality venue. While chief designer Wanhong Li has prioritized efficiency in the production areas, which he characterizes as somewhat “tough in spatial form” reflecting “modern power,” he has made the public guest spaces “slightly soft and calm,” with the region’s natural environment as a major source of inspiration. This means the mountain stone migrates inside, not only in its raw state, “forming an internal landscape,” but also as polished terrazzo, notable for its warmth and delicate figurations. Other nods to the organic world include the use of recycled teak for doors and on the ceiling of the library and elsewhere; door handles made of dried grapevine; vegetable-dyed textiles; and a courtyard planted with red willow, camel thorn, and other native species.

Photography by Feng Shao & Heng Li.
Photography by Feng Shao & Heng Li.

Project Team: Wanhong Li; Xiangdong Ren; Wenjun Fan; Jinming Nan; Liang Tang.

> See the full list of winners and honorees from Best of Year 2020