Integrated planning of a shopping-centre

Graz, Austria

The Murpark shopping centre combines economic benefits with a sustainable mobility concept.

The Murpark shopping centre was conceptualized as an open and covered pedestrian street area inspired by the typical American model of a shopping mall. The Murpark retail area (36.300 m2) offers room for 75 stores and restaurants. The overall costs of construction were estimated to 85 million Euros. The former and already existing supermarket INTERSPAR contains the major retail area in the entire centre.

The current shopping mall Murpark is connected to the public transport system (tram, bus) guaranteeing an ecological arrival and departure for its customers. It sets a benefit for the economic situation for the city of Graz with more customers interchanging to public transport.

Initially the private investor’s motivation was to expand the already existing INTERSPAR-market. By aiming at constructing two new buildings to ensure the function of a mall, the necessary zoning change was only politically agreed upon under the condition that a new and sustainable mobility solution be created. Therefore, a lot of emphasis was put on mobility management to ensure that the new location would be easily accessible for the public transport system of Graz.


City information

Size and population development

Population composition
Graz is a University City with many international students

Main functions
Graz is Austria's Second City

Main industries / business
Graz has many universities and is well known for culture and the arts

Political structure
Mayor and City Council

Administrative structure
17 administrative districts

Is this city profile not up to date? Suggest changes.
Background and objectives

The private company SES (Spar European Shopping Centres) was the driving force behind the building of the shopping centre Murpark in the district Graz-Liebenau. The already existing shopping mall in Graz-Liebenau had to be extended. For that reason, the municipality of Graz had to change the initial land utilization plan. Since the city of Graz as a public actor had to be involved in deciding the building of the new shopping mall, the city of Graz only allowed the building upon condition that the new shopping mall must include a sustainable mobility program. Murpark was conceptualised as an open air and partly covered shopping precinct, following the example set by the stereotype of American shopping malls.

Nowadays the shopping centre of Murpark is considered to be one of the best practice examples for a private-public-partnership between a developing company and the city of Graz as a public participant.

In opposition to many other large-urban-scale projects realised at the outskirts of other European cities, the main challenge of the project Murpark was the connection of the practical project and environmental planning. Containing a good integration of the regional importance into the urban structure was essentially needed to avoid a typical shopping centre on a green-field site. The shopping centre has been linked to a nearby motorway and to a new stop of the city tram 4, which should directly serve the city centre of Graz. In addition new stops of the national bus system and a park-and-ride parking lot have been created. For commuters using the park-and-ride system a special ticket is offered. 


Guaranteeing a successful private-public-partnership project, the implementation phase was connected to a mobility program from the very beginning. Within the mobility program the main emphasis was set on the public transport system as the most important part of the project. Customers of the Murpark shopping mall are now able to park their vehicle for a fee of 5 Euro for 24 hrs. Besides the whole day parking, this special ticket also includes a one-day ticket for the entire public transport system of Graz. Customers can get a monthly ticket with the same conditions for 39 Euro. The Murpark shopping mall is the first example of connecting a shopping centre with the public transport system successfully.

To connect the integrated traffic planning with the shopping centre a number of issues required particular attention

  • rebuilding and extending the already existing Interspar supermarket
  • new construction of two buildings with stockist functions
  • open air and underground car park and other parking spaces for approx. 2.200 cars
  • public Park & Ride facility for approx. 500 cars
  • street link to the motorway approach road A2Z (Graz-Ost; Graz-East)
  • extending the tramlines 4 and 13
  • beautifying and restoring the Petersbach creek.

Together with the Park & Ride facility, the connection to the motorway and the extension of tramline 4 relieves the traffic load in Southeast Graz, and at the same time is essential for the development of the whole region. The connections to the regional traffic network and the municipal and local transport system have been ensured by the following steps of action:

For a direct connection to the motorway, the northern part of the motorway A2Z had to be assigned from the ASFINAG (Autobahnen- und Schnellstraßen-Finanzierungs-Aktiengesellschaft) into the municipality’s area of responsibility. The city of Graz established a new intersection at the end of the Süd-Autobahn (South-Motorway) called “Liebenauer Tangente” (bypass of Liebenau).

The extension of the tramlines 4 and 13 developed the centre of the district Liebenau as a local traffic hub. Moreover, the bus lines 64, 74, and 75 received new end stations at the Murpark shopping centre, where six additional region bus lines also stop for intra-urban and long distance traffic.

The investor SES contracted ATP architects and engineers from Vienna for the construction of the Murpark. ATP began building in March 2005 and finished the shopping centre in March 2007. The cost of the total reconstruction and construction process amounted to 85 million Euros.

During the complete process of the project Murpark SES collaborated with several external stakeholders. ÖBB (Austrian Federal Railways), (private) national traffic companies (bus lines) and the municipality of Graz were the most important stakeholders and participants in the project. All phases of implementation predominantly required several instruments of cooperation in spatial planning, city development, and mobility management. 

Financing and resources

The overall costs of the reconstruction and the new buildings of the Murpark amounted to 85 million Euros. Jointly with the City of Graz the private company SES invested 75 million Euros. 10 million Euros were financed by different European development funds.

As a private-public-partnership project Murpark has been organized and coordinated through various jurisdictions, which are mainly controlled by the state.

Results and impacts

The shopping centre of Murpark combines economic qualities with a concept of non-motorized mobility. The shopping centre received an award during its planning phase by the MAPIC Retail Future Project Award in 2005. Beyond that ”ARGUS Steiermark – Die Radlobby” honoured Murpark at the most cycle-friendly shopping centre in Austria in 2008 and 2009.

In contrast to common shopping malls on the green-field site without any extensive performance and service quality, Murpark is a positive example for a traffic-wise integration outside the inner City of Graz. Due to the project’s proximity to the centre of the district Liebenau and the motorway approach various traffic-development concepts could be additionally established. By extending the tram lines 4 and 13 a long envisaged action for a powerful infrastructural linkage of Liebenau could be erected. Beside the extension of the tram and the new bus terminals the centre of Liebenau was also strengthened by local walkways and cycle tracks.

The new buildings sketched by the ATP Architects from Vienna are regarded as the first realisation of an open, non-air-conditioned concept of a shopping centre in Austria. Also the new extended light-wells and 350m long glass-front of the new buildings are considered as climate-friendly design. 

In collaboration with the City of Graz the investor SES had performed a good partnership project in which the municipality of Graz received an award for the best mobility concept of Europe.


Barriers and challenges

After completion of the shopping centre several problems occurred:

Even if 250 bicycle spots at Murpark provide the highest number available in comparison to other Austrian malls, it is still a very small amount compared to the number of car parking lots - especially viewed in the context of the insufficient utilisation of the park-and-ride system. During the planning process the utilisation was calculated at 95% and only reached 57% in 2009. An additional reason for the financial problem of the parking areas and their maintenance was the mandatory regulation of the “kombi-ticket” by the association of the local transport company. At the time Murpark centre opened, the monthly price for a kombi-ticket was 39 Euro, whereas today customers have to pay 53 Euro.

Customers often complained about draught and inadequate climatic conditions in the shopping centre during the first year after opening. Dealing with this problem an air-condition system was assembled with hindsight in the entire shopping complex. In addition in combination with the opening of new restaurants and several escalators a new shadow system has been constructed. After these new investments one can list a 15% increase of the number of visitors from 2008 to 2009. 

Lessons learned and transferability

Today the project is regarded as successfully completed. The public transport system in combination with the construction of the shopping-centre can be seen as a good practice example for other urban development projects.

Collaboration of a public institution –the municipality of Graz – and the private investor SES guarantees private-sector incentives in form of revenues and on the other hand made infrastructural development satisfying public interest of citizens. Furthermore success, completion, and cash contributions of the project are constantly controlled by the public sector. Since this project is based on a PPP-model it can be transferred to other cities with similar backgrounds. It cannot be recommended, however, for cities with unstable and corrupt public sectors. 


(see the links below)

External links / documents