Paradise Enterprise, Judenburg, 2012-2014

realisation of an exemplary project for direct urbanism and development of a tool-catalog


Paradise Enterprise is funded by departure as sample project for direct urbanism:


The projects by the artists Folke Köbberling, Stefan Demming and Christine and Irene Hohenbüchler are funded by the Institute of Public Art Styria:



cooperation partners:
City of Judenburg: Heinz Gradwohl (urban development), Heinz Mitteregger (city marketing), Sibylle Rarej (culture), Gernot Dobrouschek (youth and sports)
Désiree Steinwidder/ regional management of the youth/ Region of Upper Styria

collaboration with the following schools and institutions:
Bundesgymansium (highschool) Judenburg
JUZ Judenburg (youth center)

Team transparadiso:
Jan Watzak-Helmer, Matthias Jahn

Sabine Ott (design of equipment for expeditions)
Michael Schultes (rescue box)

Thanks to airsharks for the aerial videos.


The goal of this project (funded by departure_Vienna Business Agency) was the realisation of an exemplary project for direct urbanism with the development of specialised tools and long-term strategies for an Austrian mid-size town, serving as example for other situations with similar problems. The town of Judenburg was selected as cooperation partner due to their active involvement and openness to engage in this open-ended process, which will open up long term perspectives. The town formulated the interest to focus on developing perspectives for the future of the youth. Judenburg is part of the EU-network „Douzelages“ and therefore „paradise enterprise“ also aims at creating a perspective to realize further projects in this frame.


Phase 1: urban walks, exploring hidden potentials and production of desires

Since shrinking is a problematic many towns and regions are confronted with also beyond Austria, transparadiso formulated a concept, which actively involved young people in a first step through urban interventions. In urban walks they showed us their hidden places along the River Mur which served us for rediscovering forgotten and developing new potentials of this beautiful landscape area. Together with them we built the raft AMAMUR as tool for exploring the beauty of the River Mur, engaging many different communities (highschool, youth center, residents etc.). The first concrete results developed immediately: The landing of the raft was used as an informal beach. Together with a biologist a herbarium was created as educational tool.

On a parallel level we worked on a longterm urbanistic concept addressing larger societal issues of the town. We decided to reactivate the vanished paradise garden of the former nunnery in a second step, an underused space serving as storage area by the town next to the notorious social housing in Paradise Street. By invigouring this centrally located urban situation of Judenburg will connect the bourgeois historical town center to the steel factory and working class neighborhood on the other side of the river Mur, transgress the existing social and spatial borders and thus enhance the societal development of the whole town.

Phase 2: reactivating Paradise Garden

The explorations on the AMAMUR served as space apart from the everyday to trigger the production of desires for the former paradise garden. The new programs wished by the participants were: a BMX-Pumptrack, a girls’ club and the reactivation of the large circus grounds next to the paradise garden – which had also suffered from shrinking. Through additional funding from Public Art Styria we managed to realize these projects. Artist Stefan Demming realized the „One Man Show 2“: a circus produced by the the inhabitants, who were encouraged to show their talents. The experience to be able to take matters into their own hands was crucial and resulted not only in a new self awareness, but also in an emancipation of many participants living in Paradise Street, who could thus aquire a new standing in Judenburg. Artist Folke Köbberling constructed a sunken Girl’s Club with a tomato garden (tomato in Austrian language has the same meaning as „paradise“) serving as an offer for a community garden. Christine and Irene Hohenbüchler developed a concept for the BMX-Pumptrack together with the young boys in several workshops and realized it together with them. Due to their engagement they managed to hand over the responsibility to the young guys without involving a social worker.

Crucial elements for realizing the project – which we had agreed upon as preconditions right in the beginning with the mayor – were to provide a partner on site (Heinz Gradwohl), who was crucial for realizing the project, and a project office so that the project was made visible and accessible for information for the residents throughout the whole process. Since Judenburg did not have resources for production, we accumulated all energies and other resources possible, including two design projects with students from the Vienna University of Technology. One of their proposals, an urban knitting project, which was new in the region, was taken over by the enthusiasm of the residents: their goal was to achieve a Guiness World Record for the largest urban knitting by covering one of the pillars at paradise garden. With their incredible 142 m2 they missed the record just by a few square meters. And at the grand opening also the circus had come back...

Phase 3: longterm urbanistic concept

During the whole process we have been working on the longer term urbanistic concept for which we proposed to construct new housing for singles at the paradise garden in collaboration with the communal housing company which would contribute to a social mix, and expanding the public urban space by opening up the river banks and installing a public platform next to the River Mur.
At the same time Judenburg has developed a very innovative concept for a „new town“ for counteracting the competition of neighboring towns[1], proposing the town Aichfeld. The goal is to unite around 8 small towns in the geographical area highlighting specific qualities in each town rather than competing and reducing administration costs. The town Aichfeld would then have around 45.000 inhabitants (rather than e.g. Judenburg fighting for achieving 10.000 inhabitants) and thus dispose of a strong position. As first step for empowering this concept we proposed to install the „center of periphery“, rediscovering existing resources and connecting them by an ambulant vehicle.






[1] One of the big problems of small towns in the regions of Austria is that they need to have at least 10.000 inhabitants in order to receive additional funds from the federal government. The competition between neighboring towns is huge: E.g. Fohnsdorf established a big shopping mall, which drained the city center of Judenburg and thus tax income. This is a common problem in regions in Austria, due to opportunistic spatial planning.