FUSCHL-AM-SEE – The fluid, figurative design of Red Bull’s new headquarters in Fuschl-am-See, Austria, suggests the product of a mind manically-reeling from the canned elixir. Known for its avid patronage of the arts, the producer of the world’s most-consumed energy drink commissioned native sculptor Jos Pirkner – a longtime friend of co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz – as the centre’s auteur shortly after he designed a car for the company’s Italian F1 racing team.
Billed as the artist’s magnum opus, Die Bullen von Fuschl is the result of 8 years of extensive experimentation. The radial components of the complex consist of ashen, stone-tile roofs crowning steel-framed, glass facades. Inland cavea flow into overlapping circles sitting on a reservoir that assume the form of volcanoes amongst a lagoon. A crater in one of the ‘volcanoes’ opens Mateschitz’s top-floor office to the heavens and spills downward in a conic skylight to the artist’s bold signature for the site. The largest bronze sculpture currently seen in Europe juts out valiantly from the reception area into the public view of the highway, the image of lava coagulating into charging herds of the company’s mascot. For however much the monument may epitomise the sardonically unabashed excess of masculinity so present in contemporary commercial culture, Pirkner ultimately presents a non-commercial landmark. Neither the bronze bulls nor any other feature of the headquarters immediately signifies or advertises Red Bull.
Rather, the structure attempts to harmonise with its Alpine setting, though it may feature the only volcanically active peaks for several thousand miles. The organic forms in the white concrete labyrinth and manicured courtyard garden continue indoors to upwardly winding paths and elliptical elements. Offices are laid out concentrically around the middle of the volcanoes or within the cavea and open out to ample views of the exterior. A red leather roundabout seat for guests marks the centre of the main atrium, the base of the volcano. It is almost superfluous for Pirkner to point out how it ‘suggests the lava flow’. The message is as clear as it would be with a giant, rotating neon logo: product fuels you, purchase fuels us. Pirkner’s complex idealises a consumer matrix just as natural and subtle as its supposed symbiosis with the environment.