Duration: 13:30 – 18:00
Group size: 20 persons
Languages: German | English
Location: Lech commons
Means of transport: On foot
With their Commongrounds project, Katia and Gerold Schneider demonstrate how an old barn from the 1950s can be transformed into a wonderful culture space. The two architects are also the hosts at the luxury hotel Almhof Schneider, which they manage as the fourth generation. Reaching the commons in the outer part of Lech, we immediately feel the contemplative quiet and inspiring energy of the large, light timber room with an open roof and views of the surrounding mountains. With the two Schneiders, we are never at a loss for a topic of conversation, given their manifold interests and commitments. The building’s open design allows for multifunctional uses for exhibitions, concerts and meetings. Hard to believe that the two unconventional thinkers occasionally live here themselves. A fascinating location, not only for creative minds and culture lovers.
allmeinde commongrounds is the name Katia and Gerold Schneider gave this former barn in the hamlet of Tannberg which they converted to a small cultural space 16 years ago. The name says it all. The concept was informed, inter alia, by the book Vom Recht auf Gemeinheit by the social philosopher Ivan Illich. “Originally, the term ‘Allme(i)nde’ referred to the commons, to land that could be used by everyone in the village. It referred to the right of a community to decide how it used the surroundings.” This ‘shared space’ is both a physical site which Katia and Gerold Schneider want others to share and a (cultural) space to be explored and designed collectively. The idea of the commons thus also extends to the immaterial sphere, to a sharing of knowledge.
Wood, clay, felt, both rustic and refined elements are the defining aspects of the open building in which we are greeted. After the barn had been converted in 2000, a library, office, kitchen and guest room were installed on the ground floor in 2006. The architectural design with its idiosyncratic mix of avant-garde with tradition has garnered a great deal of international recognition for Katia und Gerold Schneider’s architecture, although in Lech itself the establishment is still considered rather exotic. Perhaps people find it hard to believe that the owner of a luxury hotel could be so committed to the common weal. Unofficially, the facility is nicknamed “paradise”.
Gerold Schneider, the youngest son of the family who has been running Almhof Schneider for several generations, studied philosophy, art and architectural theory in Vienna. His wife, Katia Schneider, grew up in Beirut, Vienna and Rome. In the 1970s she played the title role in the television series Heidi and, after attending school in Rome, studied architecture in Vienna and Paris. In 1995, the couple set up their joint architectural firm Allmeinde Architektur.
The main occupation of Katia and Gerold Schneider, however, is running Almhof Schneider. Having served as the farmhouse of the family for centuries, it has now evolved into a 5-star superior hotel. Despite its luxurious atmosphere, Almhof is characterised by the simple formal language of Alpine architecture, mindful of the materials used and radiating the warmth and cordiality of an owner-run hotel.