Graz, 27–31 May 2010
‘My curiosity in Graz’s water infrastructure was sparked by a1910 city map with its carefully drawn river Mur and a number of smaller water courses winding their way through the city.
‘Reading the map one is left to speculate on what spatial relationships are created by the proximity of crossings, built forms and water; how these spaces may be occupied; if a strong connection between the residents of Graz and the water channels exists and how this might be observed. The exploration and recording of these relationships became the theme of my field trip and a way to reveal the city through occupations along the edges of these water channels.
‘Graz did not disappoint and revealed very active uses on and along the river Mur, such as surfing and kayaking with no shortage of joggers, walkers and cyclists along the wooded river banks from the city to the north and south districts.
‘Structures and uses along the smaller water courses told a different story with an unexpected richness of curious spatial moments: washing line posts on opposite banks, balconies projecting over the water, private gardens without houses occupying the narrow strip between road and water, a working flour mill (est. 13th century) harnessing the energy from the water, stormwater channels below city streets, extended roof outlets at high level to reach the water, small nature reserves with gates and steps from a kindergarten to the water’s edge with suggestion of a paddling area.
‘These readings of Graz today are set alongside historic representations of the city, photographs from the City Archive and objects representing the types of spaces discovered.’
Nicola Ray studied architecture in Cape Town, South Africa; Kingston University; and at London Metropolitan University. She received an RIBA Chapter Prize for her first year portfolio, gained an honours degree with distinction and completed her Part II studying with Judith Lösing and Dann Jessen of East architecture, landscape urbanism where she has been working since 2007 on a number of competitions, public realm and buiding projects. Nicola’s exploration of wells, the culverted canals and routes water negotiates in the city of Graz reflects her concern with unseen spaces on the margins and fringes of cities and her engagement with the more hidden processes involved in making sense of places.