Tradition meets concrete
What an unexpected sight. You can already see it 200 metres away – the Fandler Oil Mill. Local residents love it when it lights up in the evening. Definitely unusual for these parts, which are characterised rather by a seemingly random scattering of different buildings. "Here a cute gingerbread house, there a warehouse", is how Petra Simon and Elemer Ploder from epps architekten describe the situation. At the site in question, a long tradition of oil pressing, embodied in the building’s old-style Schönbrunn yellow facade and green window shutters, contrasts with an innovative new fair-faced concrete building that hints to the older house. Opening up generously to the outside, the colour of the complex relates well to its local surroundings.
The size of the new building –1250 m² in all – breaks boldly with prevailing rural standards. What is so clever about this building is that its enormous dimensions are not discernible at first sight, and it its neatly into the context of its location. Fandler Oil Mill has pressed and bottled characteristically flavored pure single-varietal oils for 90 years. Their new premises were to address those same traditional values using natural materials – raw, untreated timber and fair-faced concrete. At first, you get the impression that the place is somehow incomplete. Yet, it does not need any decorative additions. It looks good just the way it is, in keeping with an attitude of respect towards the region, the company and its customers. On the other hand, the flourishing company has caused a considerable increase in traffic: not only the number of heavy vehicles transporting produce has risen, but there are also more coaches bringing tourists to the site. These developments are causing growing concern with respect to environmental and noise pollution. Pöllau is becoming a thriving market town.
‘Let’s build locally’, declared company owner Julia Fandler. Pöllau boasts a whole range of skilled craftsmen. So why not take advantage of that and let local and regional firms do the business After all, relating to a particular building has a positive effect on quality and on-site communication. The ground floor of the two storey building houses a dining and thinking area, used mainly for meals and meetings. A cook was hired to cater specifically for company employees. On the first floor, an open plan office enables members of staff to keep visual contact, while also allowing them to work in peace and quiet. Floor to ceiling partition walls create separate units and structure the space at the same time. Seeing colleagues when passing by on your way home fosters social interaction.
The spacious oil presentation and sales area on the ground floor was planned thoughtfully to meet the requirements of every single customer. To arouse their visitors’ interest in the raw materials and manufacturing process, various products and their use is one of the company’s main objectives. Accordingly, knowledge transfer plays an essential role when dealing with customers, be it a group of elderly people, youngsters or individual visitors – all of them will see and learn basically the same things. And that begins right in the entrance area, where a bed of real oil plants gives people an idea of what the plants actually look like. Ultimately, the focus is on the oils produced here and for what they are used.
The company’s logo also reflects their core produce, a range of finest quality oils; the so-called Fandler drop is visualised throughout the whole building – inside and outside. The lawn and gravel area in front of the entrance makes a playful reference to the company logo. Inside hangs a magnificent chandelier with 700 ‘oil drops’. Similarly, the solid oak interior and fair-faced concrete of the main facade bear the company logo. The oil drop in the fair-faced concrete was cast in one piece measuring six by seven metres: a challenge and eye-catcher at the same time.
- Vanessa Bauer