Olive Oil Press
In 2002, the Rene Mouawad Foundation helped establish a cooperative among a group of villages in the Batroun area that was lacking in olive oil presses. The town of Kfifane was chosen as site for the press because of its central location among this network of villages and because of its close proximity to the coastal highway.
The site features three vaulted single-room structures, two of which will be transformed into a winery and one into a showroom to exhibit the products of both the winery and the olive oil press. Sitting on a sloping terrain, the building provides a clear separation on the site between the pedestrian upper zone and the lower vehicular zone.
The upper zone consists of the showroom and a pedestrian path that links the showroom, olive oil press, and the winery. The lower zone allows for truck entry to both the olive oil press and the winery. The cooperative serves individual olive owners who have the option to sell their olives to the cooperative or to press it for a charge. The press equipment is automatic and meets the highest standards of hygiene. As such, the traditional method of farmers partaking in the pressing of their own olives will not be possible anymore.
The design tries to maintain the participation of the farmers by providing a viewing platform into the building from the upper level so that farmers can follow the whole process from outside. The building also provides for a roof terrace café where, as is customary, farmers and visitors can eat while waiting for their oil. The building consists of a linear box with a big hat-like canopy that covers the external intermediary spaces and provides shade for the roof area. The canopy also helps filter and subdue light into the press area.
The building benefits from the slope to allow for access on three levels. The upper level contains the cooperative offices, the workers’ rest spaces, and outdoors viewing platforms for visitors. The main level consists of a truck unloading docks, a semi-enclosed cleaning area, and a completely enclosed pressing area and labs.
A lower level houses the storage tanks, the bottling area, and the pick-up platform. The cool and relatively dark atmosphere necessary for oil storage is facilitated by the fact that the lower level is almost entirely underground. The three levels are visually open to each other internally in order to allow for communication. The landscape surrounding the winery is planted with olive trees, while the canopy of the olive oil press is shaded with a vine.
Client: Batroun Cooperative, Rene Moawad Foundation
Project Team: Hashim Sarkis, Pars Kibarer (Project Architect), Winifred Wang, Jonathan Cicconi
Structural Engineer: Mohamed Chahine
Contractor: Jouad Moawad