The world is changing at a rapid pace, and populations are growing more quickly. By 2030, it is anticipated that 60 percent of the population will live in conurbations with over eight million inhabitants. Audi launched the Audi Urban Future Initiative in 2010 to enable discussion of the issues resulting from this development and to find new solutions.
Building bridges – that's the goal of the Audi Urban Future Initiative. The initiative is an interdisciplinary forum that networks creative thinkers – architects, sociologists, city planners and trend researchers – across the whole world, bridging the gaps between experts of various disciplines, cultures and perspectives. Their joint discussions target an analysis of mobility in the megacities of the world and seek to find possible solutions.
Besides covering technical aspects, the findings and ideas resulting from this process also incorporate social, environmental and aesthetic aspects. The goal is to merge actual local conditions and possibilities for a sustainable mobile future. The range of issues is as diverse as the megacities themselves. In some cities what is needed is flexible, spontaneous use of public space, while in others the focus is on seamless mobility that combines different modes of transportation.
Outstanding visions of the future also have a place in the Audi Urban Future Initiative – like the concept of the city as a constant flow of motion with traffic that never comes to rest. Another topic is intelligent communication between car and city. Audi is already developing technologies for such scenarios – solutions for piloted driving as well as car-to-X communication under the heading of Audi connect.
An important component of the Audi Urban Future Initiative is the Award that Audi created in 2010; with a prize of 100,000 euros, it is the most lucrative architectural competition in Germany. Awarded by Audi for the second time in 2012, it revolves around the question of how mobility can be developed into an engine of urban development.
The five participating architectural and urban planning firms are: CRIT (Mumbai), Höweler & Yoon Architecture (Boston/Washington), NODE Architecture & Urbanism (Pearl River Delta), Superpool (Istanbul) and Urban-Think Tank (São Paulo). All of the firms developed concepts for the metropolitan regions in which they are located. Höweler & Yoon emerged from the competition the winner; the highly distinguished jury panel was won over by their cutting-edge urbanization concept for the Boston/Washington metropolitan region.The “Share-way” concept from the American architects revolutionizes the commute between work and home. Its core concept is to fuse personal and public transport with an innovative mobility platform that combines the existing infrastructure with intelligent traffic flows and networks.
The “new American dream” of the Boston-based agency is based on a new societal consensus: The focus is on community; sharing becomes more important than ownership. A critical component of the concept is the reorganization and pooling of all modes of transport into a highly technical, optimized and constantly pulsating artery of mobility. The so-called “Bundle” travels through the region from Boston to Washington and connects the suburbs and cities into one urban space with a potential to house more than 53 million residents.
The core thesis of the Audi Urban Future Awards is underpinned in workshops and research partnerships and discussed with Audi employees. A work group – the Insight Team – introduces the concept within the company in order to strengthen awareness of the challenges of tomorrow. The research program of the Audi Urban Future Initiative includes partnerships with universities worldwide. The "Extreme Cities Project" in partnership with Columbia University in New York, for instance, has adopted the task of revealing urban potential, and as a result is training its sights at the year 2050.