You might expect France to be the home of world-renowned wines, but Lee and Yano can transform a Hong Kong home into a new vineyard.
For STYLE this month, the pair created a fully equipped microwinery that brings the ultimate luxury winemaking experience to the basement of a home, and heightens its owners' enjoyment of wine tasting.
They turned to wine expert Eugenia Yiu about the winemaking culture. "Winemaking is often associated with renowned vineyards set in the countryside [where] geographical and natural characteristics are essential to the creation of fine wine," Lee says.
However, ownership of a winery seems out of the question for many city folk who may be too busy to visit a vineyard and enjoy winemaking in its beautiful landscape.
Lee and Yano provide an urban oasis of vines and grapes in this concrete jungle.
Urban Vineyard is set in bustling Hong Kong, and is intended for an entrepreneur, global explorer and lover of fine wine who wishes to push new boundaries in nature and technology, the pair say.
Set in a densely populated neighbourhood, the concept begins with a row of vines in a courtyard, where visitors are welcomed as in a real vineyard.
Guests then go downstairs to the private underground winery. It is a futuristic, brightly illuminated glass room and far removed from the dim dampness of a brick cellar. The space features a minimalistic tasting room where exquisite crystal glassware is laid out on a beautifully crafted stone table flanked by sofas in which visitors can sample wines in comfort.
The winery's secrets lie behind a glass wall. These include fully automated facilities that cover all stages of wine production, bottling and storage. The whole process is monitored by a digital environmental control management system.
Grapes are delivered from any of over 500 wine regions around the world, according to the owner's origin and variety preferences. The mechanically sorted grapes then pass through the advanced wine-fermentation machines.
A bottling facility, storage rack with a temperature control facility, and a wine-raising area are also under the same roof to provide a one-stop production chain serving wine from the vineyard to the table.
If you think that is the end of the home-made wine's journey, brace yourself for the winery's tasting room, which rises like a lift. High above the ground, guests can savour the home winery's mellow nectar and enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Such a well-thought-out design combines logistics, wine making and tasting in one room - and highlights Lee and Yano's interest in incorporating technology into their design.
"We believe the ultimate luxury of winemaking is reinterpreting traditional vineyard culture with modern technology and engineering in urban Hong Kong," Yano says.
After consulting the mechanical engineering company Buro Happold Hong Kong, the pair included various environmental engineering solutions to create a space that interacts with its surroundings, such as the radiant cooling wall by the staircase; and the thermal wall to collect moist from the air and feed the vines. There is also an air curtain and displacement ventilation system in the tasting room to provide an open view of the winery's surroundings and also regulate its temperature and humidity.
Lee and Yano's design combines the luxury of wine making in the fully articulated underground cellar, and literally heightens it with the prospect of enjoying it in a penthouse under Hong Kong's glittering skyline.
Sarah Lee and Yutaka Yano are the founders of SKY YUTAKA, an emerging multidisciplinary architectural studio based in Hong Kong. The duo provide a consultancy service rooted in design research in an impressive range of domains, from residential, commercial and hospitality; to cultural projects, landscape and interactive installation works with clients, including Lane Crawford and Swarovski. The fine design solutions they deliver reflect the pair’s strong analytical skills, their attention to every circumstance arising from each project, and their interest in the integration of new technology.