The small shop in a listed building on Marokkanergasse in Vienna’s 3rd district had been standing vacant for decades. The landlords, who also run the legendary Gmoakeller restaurant just around the corner, would often sneak a peek through the windows when they were passing by. One day they did so together with us, and this led to some musing about what the ideal neighbourhood bar would have to be like for us to feel at home there.
Our discussions and deliberations eventually led to ‘Die Schwemme’: with a usable floor area of only 56 m2 this neighbourhood bar and bistro is so small that you are bound to get in touch (physically or even personally) with other guests.
One of the dominating elements in the room is the long counter behind which the chef cooks, allowing guests to look over his shoulder. Lunch is served on the counter, while at night theatre-goers or music lovers coming from the nearby Akademietheater and Konzerthaus discuss the night’s performance, or vague acquaintances get to know each other better over a draft beer. Friends sit closer at the few small tables, connected by a long bench and a sufficient number of stools.
The interior design is unassuming but its exquisite materials create an appealing atmosphere, with handmade grey tiles from Spain adorning a wall, bottle-green ornamental tiles covering the floor, and pendant lamps from the Bavarian manufactory Lumisol casting a warm light. The entire furniture was made by a local cabinet maker using solid oak.
The necessary glasses hang in a rack over the counter. Apart from saving space, this also lends a special elegance to the room.
Technically, converting the premises (from June to September 2016) was a rather complex process. All alterations in the listed building were planned in close coordination with the Federal Monuments Authority. Installing restaurant-specific ventilation in a way that would hide it from view was a particular challenge. In the end, we dug up the backyard to install an earth-to-air heat exchanger that supplies clean, fresh outdoor air, while the solution for discharging the exhaust air was finally found in the flue of a former laundry room.