Steirereck is one of the best restaurants in the world. The need for more internal space and the ever-increasing demands placed on this sector meant that a comprehensive re-formulation became necessary. Two years ago, Vienna’s Rietbauer family called not only for a complete interior renovation to their restaurant, Steirereck, but for an extension as well. PPAG architects took an immersive approach to their winning entry. “We completed in-depth research about food from the perspectives of both the catering staff and the customers by slipping into different roles,” say the architects. What they found was an opportunity to rethink the traditional, room-full-of-tables building type, and to address the client’s desire for a proposal both ‘timeless and innovative’. In designing the new dining space, they say, “we worked outward from individual tables.”
What used to be a terrace leading to a children’s playground is now a system of pavilions, branching out, finger-like, from a precise table arrangement. Every table is placed at the edge against the façade and offers varied visual connections to both the outside and to the other tables.
The proximity to the park was of particular importance to the clients. Large electric sash windows, and the slightly reflective metal façade that appears to be coated with dew, create a sense of visual closeness, providing guests with the highest levels of acoustic and thermal comfort while at the same time giving them the feeling that they are sitting outside and yet also at home. The pavilions lead to courtyards on the same level, which are connected to the park via seating steps that signalise both embeddedness and, at the same time, a borderline. One of the gullies leads to the entrance and the herb garden can be found on the roof.
The mimicry architecture of the pavilions creates a connection to the light architecture often found in parks. The result is something new but also cosy, something that merges into the background but yet is, at the same time, a strong architectural statement.
all images © HELMUT PIERER