Beyond their work at Almhof, Gerold and Katia Schneider are architects—and about 330m upslope from the Almhof is one of their pet projects, the allmeinde commongrounds.
Based on the idea of sharing culture in a “commons” (Gerold’s background in philosophy underpins this, as does Katia’s architecture thesis project on Alpine culture-institutional architecture—the “Alm” is a uniquely Alpine collective pasture land and an example of successful community, by the way), this converted mountain barn has evolved from a cowshed to an arts residency and cultural venue since 2000.
A weathered barn outside and a modern, airy loft inside, it’s also a brilliant example of how minimalist Alpine design can blend with hospitality and, dare we say it, high culture. The formidable cultural program, including exhibitions and performative evenings, feature the likes of British sculptor Antony Gormley or photographers Axel Hütte and Walter Niedermayr.
Just before the turn of the millennium, Katia and Gerold decided to renovate the vast two-story barn, which Gerold’s father purchased in the 1980s and used as Almhof’s employee quarters and storage. Together they designed allmeinde and began constructing the upper story, once a hayloft.
Framed with clay walls and vaulted wooden beams, the 140m2 space is also divided lengthwise by a cabinet in silver fir. Its many doors open or fold out to reveal a kitchen, a bed, a bathroom, shelving and work surfaces, all with impeccable handicraft. In the lower level is a library of around 2,000 books on art, music, philosophy, Alpine life and travel, which visitors are welcome to read if they ask; there’s also a kitchen and guest bedroom, open to visiting artists and friends.
Allmeinde aims to give space for thought. The couple call it their paradise. As Gerold has written: “It’s made it its task to make a modest contribution toward advancing the collective in its own way, through dialogue, reflection, art and shared knowledge.” Come by, to talk with whomever’s here, read, think, look and transcend the everyday.