It's cool, men: Steiner Architecture f/f and the Ice Race Pavilion

The best way to counter the summer heat is like the two creators of Steiner Architecture f/f: with cool ideas that are well implemented. Like the Ice Race Pavilion, for example. But Flo Oberschneider and Ferdi Porsche also leave a lasting and sustainable impression with tother projects.
Text Matthias Mederer
Photo Amy Shore

An open lounge in the mountains in winter - that sounds daring to us at first. After all, it can be very drafty in Zell am See. How did it come about? The pavilion is part of the outdoor space. Fortunately, you're dressed very warmly at the Ice Race. The experience takes precedence over comfort.

What role does the environment play in this?
The pavilion can be set up in different places. Its appearance changes completely with the weather and even more with the season: In winter it disappears into the landscape, in sunshine the white roof reflects, in summer the ground becomes a platform.

Were ice and snow the guiding theme?
I think in another context it would not have become white. The snow-covered ground merges directly into the building. The four red supports fully relate to the vehicle.

What were the particular challenges with the project?
The pandemic gave us a very short planning and construction period. This was also accompanied by a reduced availability of materials. The pavilion had to be flexible in terms of assembly and disassembly - and of course its dimensions had to be tailored to the standard dimensions of a truck.

Your approach to the solution?
We knew pretty much exactly what we wanted: It should be a simple solution. We wanted to blur the lines between people and cars - the landscape plays a central role in this.

What has been the reaction to the pavilion?
We were delighted with the way it was received. It was immediately a meeting place. People sat down, talked to each other and took photos. That's what the Ice Race is all about, an inclusive event all about the cultural asset that is the car!

Will the Pavilion be back in 2023, or will there be something else?
Definitely! And much more.

"It was immediately a meeting place. People sat down, talked to each other and took photos. That's what the Ice Race is all about, an inclusive event all about the cultural asset that is the car!"

More generally, what role does nature play for Steiner Achitecture f/f?
A central one. We always aim to build in relation to the site. Nature defines a place, it dictates the materiality, the climate, the static framework conditions, and in the Alps even the construction time.

And the topic of sustainability?
For us, it has two aspects in relation to architecture: Climate change cannot be explained away, so we have to make sure that we save energy in the materiality and in the building itself. At the same time, we think that buildings should last as long as possible. To this end, they must be flexible so that they can be used for other purposes or by other users. This also means that the materials must have a certain quality.

How do you actually use the materials?
We want to be honest with them. We don't dress them up. Visibility and haptics are important to us. The material gives the building attitude, texture and color.

"We always aim to build in relation to the site. Nature defines a place, it dictates the materiality, the climate, the static framework conditions, and in the Alps even the construction time."

What is your approach to this?
As a young architectural firm, we are often the ones who propose projects to our clients. Projects that we believe in and stand behind. Sometimes even with a design proposal. And we are very detail-oriented. In our design process, we jump from the big picture all the way down to the details and back.

What makes you successful at this?
We listen. We've learned that projects get better when we incorporate other ideas as well. At the same time, sometimes you have to be stubborn. It's about finding a good balance. So far, we've managed to do that.

How do you manage to keep thinking »out of the box« even under the amount of simultaneous tasks?
One project inspires the next and the next and the next. I think that's one reason why it works.

The biggest luxury for you guys?
Half a meter of deep snow and two skis. For Flo, a snowboard!

"We are very detail-oriented. In our design process, we jump from the big picture all the way down to the details and back."

What other places in the world would you like to be active?
There are so many cool places in the world. Right now we are working in the USA for the first time - and that is an insanely interesting experience.

Your future projects? There's also something with Porsche …
The "Mankei" is currently being built on the Großglockner, GP's first location. (GP ICE RACE, editor's note) Outside of Vienna, we are working on a private car museum. The project in the USA is located within the Petersen Automotive Museum. We are also currently planning a residential building in Copenhagen and we are renovating a listed house in Salzburg.


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