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Raderbauer HansJorg

Freiland Umweltconsulting Ziviltechniker GmbH

Graz, the capital of Styria, has undergone a dynamic transformation. A comparison of old maps reveals the rapid expansion of the city centre. If the settlement growth seen hitherto continues, we can expect Graz and the towns in the surrounding area to have merged together by 2050.

The River Mur constitutes the ecological backbone of an agglomeration of settlements with about 350,000 inhabitants. However, due to systematic flood regulation in the second half of the 19th century, the water level of the Mur was markedly lowered. Although it was functionally effective in an ecological sense, the original connection between the river and its hinterland was broken, and the economic and social life on and with the river was increasingly lost. The Mur had, so to speak, disappeared from the field of vision of the people of Graz and was therefore only to a limited extent usable as a leisure and recreation area for the local people.

2. Also, the Mur was heavily polluted in the second half of the previous century and was regarded by the citizens of Graz as the backyard of the city;

the town turned away from the river in its functional activities.

In the meantime, the Mur has been cleaned up as regards water quality, and the town has recognised the significance of this living artery that runs through its centre and wants to utilise the potentials of this area for the future development of the city. Industrial energy production, development of the urband district, gentle mobility (cycle tracks and footpaths), leisure and recreation, as well as sporting activities have been under discussion for the river area over the past few years.

For some considerable time, our office has been trying to combine these ideas and, together with politicians, administrators and the citizens of Graz, to develop visions for the utilisation and design of the River Mur. The need for a structured development process in shaping the Mur and the adjoining city district has been repeatedly emphasized in a variety of studies carried out or commissioned by the region of Styria and the city of Graz. Within the framework of my lecture, I will describe the path leading to this process of development and design, explain the different planning phases, offer examples and present the initial implementation measures.

Planning phases:

Phase 1: Strategic planning Time for Graz planning workshop Aim: Positioning the idea, collecting ideas and requests from the public, administrators and politicians, and formulating followup projects.

The planning workshop, which was held 2006/07, was a public participation process to develop recommendations for action, measures and milestone projects on issues that were important to the general public. As well as identifying such important issues, this project served to strengthen the identification of the townsfolk with their residential environment and was aimed at giving local people the opportunity to influence the shaping of their immediate living environment.

In all, up to 11 important issues were worked out in approximately public events, recommendations for action, milestone projects and specific individual measures.

Within the framework of this citizen participation process, we promoted the Mur potentials as an important subject and, together with the citizens and administrators. we concerned ourselves with the enhancement of the river and its adjoining districts as an opportunity for the city of Graz to develop. The task


established for the subsequent planning phases was to analyse the developmental opportunities in a multiphase planning process (visions masterplan draft design implementation) and to bring them to implementation.

The Mur habitat vision Aim: To work out an overall concept based on the habitat conditions and the potentials, as a largescale vision for the habitat on the Mur, for the year 2050. Here, developmental aims for different zones of the river are first formulated, and ways to achieve these aims are shown:

North park: Restructuring of the Mur, improvement of the water meadow dynamics, and ecological enhancement of an inaccessible urban area (water works).

Reversing the backyard situation and using the Mur for recreation (Illustration: freiland) City centre: Connecting up important citycentre places on the Mur through channeling traffic underground, and improving access to the Mur through enlarging existing, and creating new, cycle tracks and footpaths along the banks of the Mur.

City beach: Reversal of the backyard situation through relocating business premises, as well as through regulating future building on the Mur, the development of attractive ways to access the river, and the creation of new cycle tracks and footpaths along the Mur banks.

Au park: The openingup of the downriver Mur water meadows as a leisure and recreation area, while at the same time preserving their ecological function through the systematic directing of visitors.

2. Phase 2: Development planning for the Mur Masterplan Aim: The specific spatialisation of development ideas, clarification of the general conditions and requirements for obtaining planning permission, and the development of financing plans.

In accordance with the zoning plan, development and design concepts are worked out for the different zones, in cooperation with the Office for Green Space and Waters of the city of Graz and all the other municipal departments concerned. Different design areas are identified for each zone and basic design and utilisation principles are developed.

The Murfeld development concept Aim: To work out a city district development concept for the areas of traffic, city planning and open space planning. To develop areas with a high quality of life and their own identity, to safeguard and improve the utility infrastructure, and to promote gentle mobility.

Central elements are the extensivelydesigned public grassy and open spaces, which form a Green Arc in the Murfeld.


The Green Arc as a leisure and recreation axis of the new city district in connection with the newlydesigned Mur (Illustration:

freiland) The Green Arc has made the connectingup of the Mur with the adjoining city district clearly visible: the river has been brought more into the centre of the citys development.

Together with the Mur, which has been newlydesigned in the area of the Murfeld, the Green Arc fulfils a wide variety of functions for the Stadtteil as an open space: it connects the different large leisure and sports grounds with one another, and also contains smaller recreation and communication areas situated at regular intervals along the paths. There are areas of gradual transition linking the individual areas of utilisation and function, which ultimately merge to form the Green Arc.

The building of homes is being developed in the form of differentiated, smallscale structured units, which overall lead to a greater density of building activity in the city district.

The innovative traffic solutions for the district are traffic reduction zones and cycling roads, while public transport, and bicycle and pedestrian traffic are being widely and intensively promoted.

Phase 3: Project planning Detailed planning for the Mur Bank Promenade, competitions for city districts The developmental planning processes described above paved the way for different competitions, and for detailed planning and implementation measures. In the meantime, a new riverbank area in the city centre has already been designed, and other sections of the Mur are also currently undergoing work.

Within the framework of the redesign process, paths will be laid down along the river, access points to the water developed, sport and leisure opportunities created, and restaurants established on the river. The river is being given a completely new look in Graz, with various utilisation functions.

2. The river can thus fulfil its primary function: of being a habitat for both animals and plants, and for the people who live on it.

Mur riverbank design Examples of planning and implementation





Freiland Umweltconsulting Ziviltechniker GmbH In the meantime, Austria has acquired many years practical experience in the development, planning and realisation of large scale infrastructure projects. Environmental coordination thereby plays a major role.

Traffic infrastructure can impose a major strain on human beings, nature and the landscape.

Ecological concerns have to be taken adequately into account when developing premium infrastructure, in accordance with European ecological directives (Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, Water Framework Directive, Birds Directive, Flora, Fauna and Habitats Directive, etc) and the corresponding federal and state laws (e.g. Environmental impact Assessment Act, Forest Act, Water Rights Act, Nature Conservation Act, etc).

The planning sequence for a dual carriageway project involves:

Corridor traffic study and development Choosing between different options and preliminary design study 2. Project submission and statement of environmental compatibility Action planning Building project and corollary planning Construction of the road Environmental building supervision During each phase of the planning process, the needs of human beings and their environment are optimally coordinated with the technical requirements. During the development of the road, the citizens concerned are involved in the planning and public participation processes.

Environmental studies and assessments clarify environmentspecific problems concerning technical and methodical aspects. The pollution load capacity and state of the environment is recorded and evaluated, and measures for minimizing or compensating the impact of the intervention are developed.

The term environment encompasses human beings and their interest in utilising the landscape, real and cultural assets, animals, plants and ecosystems, soil, water, air and the climate.


Protecting real and cultural assets Real and cultural assets Environmental coordination comprises environmentallyrelevant technical support, as well as the related organisational coordination of the project, all the way from determining the route and conducting the EIA process, to obtaining all the necessary permits.

The following project management tasks must be carried out:

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