The future of megacities
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 megacities with over eight million inhabitants. Audi launched the Audi Urban Future Initiative in 2010 to discuss the issues resulting from this development and to find new solutions.
Building bridges – that is the goal of the Audi Urban Future Initiative. The initiative is an interdisciplinary forum that networks creative thinkers – architects, sociologists, urban planners, trend researchers and start-ups – with one another around the globe. It brings together specialists from various disciplines, cultures and perspectives. Their joint discussions target an analysis of the challenges of tomorrow’s 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 topics is as multifaceted 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 their 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. Last but not least, the initiative focuses on the intelligent networking of urban spaces, mobility and their users.
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. Audi presented the award for the second time in 2012; the competition revolved around the question of how mobility can become an engine of urban development. The five participating architectural and urban planning firms were: CRIT (Mumbai), Höweler & Yoon Architecture (Boston/Washington), NODE Architecture & Urbanism (Pearl River Delta), Superpool (Istanbul) and Urban-Think Tank (São Paulo). All of these firms devised concepts for the metropolitan regions in which they are located.
Winner of the competition was Höweler & Yoon Architecture; their proposed cutting-edge urbanization concept for the metropolitan region of Boston/Washington convinced the high-caliber jury. The American architects’ concept of the “Shareway” revolutionizes the commute between work and home. Their main idea is to merge 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 agency is based on a new social consensus: The focus is on the community; sharing is more important than ownership. A vital element 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 to form one urban space that could potentially be home to more than 53 million residents.
The Audi Urban Future Award will be presented once again in 2014 as part of the Audi Urban Future Initiative. Interdisciplinary innovation teams on three different continents will develop feasibility studies for specific urban mobility planning projects. Each team will focus on a different aspect, depending on the respective urban context, so an exciting portfolio of projects and pioneering urbanization concepts can be expected.
The core theses of the Audi Urban Future Award are underpinned in workshops and research partnerships and discussed with Audi employees. A work group, the Insight Team, introduces these 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 across the globe. The “Extreme Cities Project” in collaboration with Columbia University in New York, for instance, has taken on the task of identifying urban potential, placing its focus on the year 2050.