steel construction specialist seele realized the steel glass design with its steel “tree” columns forming the building envelope, designed by Foster + Partners, at the project Château Margaux, France.


steel tree columns


steel diagrid roof & columns




individual components

château margaux – steel “trees” for a world-renowned wine estate

Château Margaux is one of the most acclaimed wine-growing estates in the world. The “Nouveau Chai” represents the first extension to the premises for 200 years. It joins on to the east wing of the building complex and houses storage and processing facilities for the grape harvest plus laboratories and a tasting room. Lord Norman Foster personally took charge of the design work and brought in seele pilsen for the construction.

The design exploits the stylistic devices of the original French village architecture. The result is a perfect blend of old and new with an alluring aesthetic and craft-like sophistication. Twelve steel columns and a branch-like diagrid merge artistically to form a delicate tree-type structure carrying the roof. seele devised a structurally and aesthetically demanding solution specially for the complex steel tree columns.

  • Glass façades by seele feature on all sides of the new building. On the east and west sides the 5m x 2.5m panes are fixed to IPE beam sections, which at the same time form a wall incorporating technical equipment. The north elevation is in the form of a glazed steel frame with two steel doors measuring 3.8m x 1.6m. The south-facing folding door, with a clear opening of 20m x 3.8m, is fitted into a steel frame that functions as both wall and door frame. For this wall, seele supplied the 19m long beam with a camber to compensate for the natural sag of the beam after erection, which resulted in a max. 15mm tolerance for the steel door. The glass façade on the northern side is enhanced by a terrace with glass sliding door and glazed balustrade – all by seele. Six large-format, triangular windows in the gable ensure additional daylight. Access to and from the existing building is via a glazed connecting tunnel.

    “Nouveau Chai” is yet another project that has allowed seele to demonstrate its creativeness, dedication and craft-like perfection when it comes to steelwork.

    Images: © Nigel Young

Steel, glass and innovation by seele: the “Nouveau Chai” at Château Margaux.
The “Nouveau Chai” sets standards in terms of both engineering and architectural finesse.
The extension is the result of the perfect collaboration between a visionary architect and the engineers at seele, who can turn concepts into reality.

Steel tree nodes represent perfect fusion of aesthetics and structural engineering

The twelve branching steel tree columns were the greatest challenge in this project. Despite all the structural requirements, they had to remain really slender, attractive and organic. And of course, the design had to be weldable as well. seele’s engineers took on this ambitious task and even the first 3D preliminary design was convincing – symbolising the perfect synthesis of difficult geometry, physical demands, feasibility of details and the aesthetic expectations of the architect. The nodes of the steel tree columns have been fabricated to a very high standard which is very impressive. Each node has to carry enormous structural forces, yet its consummate design is fascinating from every angle.

The nodes of the twelve steel tree columns are the epitome of consummate construction skills. © seele/René Müller
seele pilsen has united structural requirements with the architects’ high aesthetic demands.
seele’s first draft design for the steel tree columns satisfied the requirements of the architects at Foster + Partners, who had looked long and hard for the best possible solution. The organic branching of the columns mimics the nearby trees, creating a visual reference.
Twelve delicate steel tree columns support the roof to the “Nouveau Chai” at Château Margaux. Their organic branches rise upwards to a diagrid that covers a total area of about 1,000sqm.


Joint venture partner Cabinet d’architecture A3A
Main contractor Cabinet d’architecture A3A
Architect Foster + Partners
Engineer Foster + Partners
Date of completion 2014
Scope of seele supply
  • No-bolts steelwork
  • Twelve steel tree columns supporting diagrid roof
  • East and west façades: 5m x 2.5m panes of glass in IPE frames
  • North façade: steel frame with 2 steel doors (3.8m x 1.6m)
  • South façade: folding door with steel frame (20m x 3.8m)
  • Glazed connecting tunnel to existing building
  • Glazed terrace with glass sliding door
  • Six triangular windows (5.2m x 5.2m x 5.2m)