Graz: Implementing 'School Living Labs'


Graz (Austria)

Challenge area:

Active Mobility

Creating Public Realm

Implementation period:


The Challenge

In many cities, parents do not feel safe letting their children walk or cycle to school because of the traffic situation – not realising that they themselves contribute to the dangerous situation by dropping off and picking up their children by car. Graz tried to change this by converting the areas in front of three schools in the district of Lend into “Living Labs”: an area for educational purposes, as well as games and leisure activities.

The School Living Lab idea is based on the premise coined by the Danish urban planner Jan Gehl that a high-quality and sustainable neighbourhood is characterised above all by the number of children in public places (streets, squares, parks). Based on this, the schemes aim was to transform car-oriented neighbourhoods into child-friendly places. This should not only increase the quality of life, but also a change in behaviour with regard to mobility.

In the case of Graz, the central point is trying to give the children free space for lessons in the open air or for free movement. Central here is the use of the potential of the spaces in front of the schools and their conversion from parking spaces to freely usable movement areas for children.

The Solution

The idea was to convert the space outside the school from a two-way road with 16 car parking spaces to a space for 500 children to play and have lessons outside.

From one day to one week, the street in front of the schools were closed to motorised traffic and transformed into Living Labs. In total, over 80 teachers and 1,000 students were involved in the Living Labs. Besides gaining space for the school and its pupils, this action had a positive effect on the traffic behaviour of all participants. Active modes of transportation were promoted as parents could no longer drop off their children in front of the school.