Jun 13–Sep 15, 2024

Bold City, brave decisions

How the city of Groningen transformed itself into an exemplary city
Mariahilferstrasse 2, Graz 8020
Tue–Sun 10 am–6 pm

In 2024 we are celebrating the 60th jubilee of the twinning of the cities Graz and Groningen. On this occasion the HDA invited the Dutch/German architecture and urban planning office De Zwarte Hond - which has played a key role in shaping Groningen's urban planning - to present Groningen to the people of Graz. With the exhibition ‘Bold city, brave decisions. How the city of Groningen transformed itself into an exemplary city’, the office provides insights into the transformation of the Dutch city in recent decades and encourages a lively exchange about the challenges the twin cities are facing and the future brave decisions they need to make.

Urban centers around the world have been steadily expanding for decades now and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, as do Graz and Groningen. Cities that both have steadily increasing populations. Today’s new pressures on cities developments are manifold: How can growing cities respond to recent challenges for sustainable urban development? How can we create highly livable, sustainable, and inclusive cities which can grow along with their populations? Whom can we learn from, to make inspired decisions on how to design and manage the cities of the future? How can we ensure a high quality of life in a socially and environmentally sustainably designed city? In other words, how can we make cities livable today?

Graz and Groningen have a lot in common: Both have a population of around 300,000 and a historic center located along river banks. Their universities, each with more than 60,000 students, are important national centers for research, science, and culture in their region and beyond. Both Cities have a lively and diverse creative scene with festivals and event centers for art, music and design. Finally, both can look back on a long history of high-quality architecture, characterized by a thoughtful combination of historic and modern buildings. With these many similarities, it seems particularly interesting to bring together the respective approaches to urban development in Graz and Groningen. The exhibition and the accompanying opening discussion therefore aim to stimulate dialogue between the two cities and their citizens about future urban developments and to exchange strategies for socially and ecologically sustainable cities.

The exhibition will take a closer look at the city of Groningen, in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the town twinning, to present its urban development in Graz. After an overview of the historical development of Groningen, three of the most important “brave decisions” and their implementation in various phases of urban development planning are presented as examples. These include the implementation of Berlage's urban expansion plan, which was developed in 1928 and updated in 1932, the development and implementation of Max van den Berg's transport plan in 1977 and the support of innovative and sometimes controversial architectural projects by Ypke Gietema, who was Groningen's city councilor for spatial development from 1978 to 1992. Together, these bold decisions have made Groningen the compact, characteristic, and exemplary city it is today.

The exhibition aims to inspire citizens and experts alike and to invite a discourse on the topic of the city and its future, to present its public and political dimension and to promote the relationship and exchange between its inhabitants.