2021, Graz

NORMAL - Direct Urbanism x 4

NORMAL is a project of Culture Year Graz 2020

Direct Urbanism
Cultural Spaces
Planning the City/ Region

The Cultural Year Graz 2020 is an exceptional opportunity to address relevant issues of urban development at the periphery, in "peri-urban" spaces, which - although the majority of the population lives in such spaces - are hardly in the interest of urban planning.

NORMAL explores how artistic-urbanistic strategies and the realization of urban interventions can be employed for direct urbanism for the specific contexts: For discovering hidden poetic moments and establishing new qualities for the community, thus promoting a socially and societally engaged urban development.

For many years, these areas have been transformed by unrestrained building activity, without being based on urban development concepts. As a result, there is a lack of identifiable identities - apart from the notion of the unspectacular, if not of "boredom". These peri-urban areas in Graz have been developing an image similar to many other cities in Europe.
NORMAL is based on an ongoing exchange between the periphery (urban interventions) and the centre (exhibtions at HDA and Forum Stadtpark). As final event the 4 districts will be connected by 4 hikes along the periphery, thus creating a new hike trail.

What is "normal"?
Normality from the perspective of artists and urban practitioners can mean something quite different from what it means for those parts of the population marked by increasing fear of career disadvantages due to deviant behaviour or simply resentment or envy from their neighbors. When these different normalities collide, they can be given space through special artistic settings thus creating a productive force that breaks up the dominant form of normality. What is normal is particularly defined by the feedback of our fellow human beings. Who do we ask for an assessment? Whose opinion do we find relevant? What is perceived as normal is in motion; it changes over time according to the development of society.

NORMAL addresses the „majority of the unspectacular“
Graz has - also internationally - an outstanding reputation for architecture, while at the same time the city is characterized by a high degree of fragmentation. As the city experiencing the highest percentage of growth in Austria, it is therefore all the more important to deal with these less noticed districts on the outskirts of the city.
How can innovative artistic-urbanistic methods contribute to producing a new "centrality" (Lefebvre) and identity of these peri-urban areas, which inspite of showing similar phenomena are all very different? This is all the more urgent since the established district centres with their social structures are now under threat. These "peri-urban" areas are marked by an enormous consumption of space by supermarkets and shopping centres with their individual parking lots, and by densification. These lack qualities of public space, instead extinguishing still existing social (infra)structures.

Direct urbanism and related "other urbanisms“
Direct urbanism is a method transparadiso has developed and continuously refined to respond to current social challenges of urban planning. In doing so, artistic-ubanistic strategies for a socially committed urban planning is developed, which is integrated into a longer-term urban planning process. Direct urbanism connects planning and action. Although many urbanisms committed to the common good and social issues (performative urbanism, instant urbanism, etc.) have emerged since the mid/late 1990s, they have hardly found their way into being commissioned by urban planning departments to date.

NORMAL thus once again poses the question of what role art can play in relation to social issues. (>"Planning Unplanned" (eds.Barbara Holub/ Christine Hohenbüchler); "Dürfen die das?" (eds. Stella Rollig, Eva Sturm).

transparadiso invited three international urban practitioners (architects/ artist teams) to realize a project for NORMAL together with a project by transparadiso.

Four urban interventions in 4 peri-urban districts

Andritz (North):
public works (London, UK) "PLATZEN - School for Civic Action",
Hauptplatz Andritz, July 12–18, 2021

Waltendorf (East):
transparadiso (Vienna/ Graz, A) "The Third World Congress of the Missing Things",
Parish St.Paul/ Waltendorf, July 31–Aug.1, 2021

Liebenau (South):
orizzontale (Rome, I) "FLUSSFLUSS - Castaway on the Mur"
Beach Am Grünanger/ Liebenau, opening: June 11, 2021

Wetzelsdorf (West):
Georg Winter (Stuttgart/ Saarbrücken, D) "DancePlantField"
Grottenhofstraße/ Wetzelsdorf, ongoing events

As a starting point, transparadiso provided research on the history and possible topics for engagement. The projects will be realized in cooperation with local organisations and considered as essential impulses for the longer term development of the districts. By furthering an exchange among the teams and discussing their specific methods throughout the whole process transparadiso aims at creating more visibility for these practices – based on the projects created for the specific sites.

NORMAL takes the topic of the Culture Year Graz 2020 „HOW WE WANT TO LIVE TOGETHER“ and their quest for asking for visions seriously: The process and results of NORMAL will be discussed on an ongoing basis with the districts and the authorities of the City of Graz.

The process
An essential concern of NORMAL is to further an exchange between the periphery and the city center.
Therefore the inaugural event was an exhibition at HDA / House of Architecture Graz (Jan.28-Feb.24) and the final event will be a show at Forum Stadtpark (Sept.1-15, 2021).

The catalogue NORMAL #1 was published in 2020, presenting transparadiso's research on the 4 districts in Graz as well as the artist/architect teams and their project concepts.
The catalogue NORMAL #2 will be published in Oct. 2021 (Salon für Kunstbuch) with a documentation of the realised projects, as well as texts by Thomas Kästle, Sabine Maria Schmidt and an interview by Elke Krasny with transparadiso.
In December 2021, a dérive magazine will be published on the focus NORMAL (ed. transparadiso).

In summer 2022 transparadiso will organize hikes at the urban periphery, connecting the 4 districts (accompanied by the Indikatormobil, an urban research vehicle) and thus installing new hike trails.

Michael Petrowitsch (partner transparadiso)

Invited teams
public works (London, GB), orizzontale (Rom, I), Georg Winter (Stuttgart/ Saarbrücken, D)

Partner institutions
HdA Graz/ House of Architecture, Forum Stadtpark

Media partner
dérive - magazine for urban research

In collaboration with
The Graz Districts: Andritz, Waltendorf, Liebenau, Wetzelsdorf
and local organizations in the districts

Funded by
Culture Year GRAZ 2020

Previous project: