The audience at the conference heard about urban spaces that are extremely various – geographically, historically and culturally. But they have one thing in common: They all demonstrate a paradigm shift in mobility, which has already begun in practice and is increasingly entering the public consciousness. Movement or mobility – as the architects demonstrated – are an essential part of today’s megacities. They are an absolutely fundamental part of the logic of cities. In this way the image was projected of a dynamic urban community that has come a long way from the traditional conception of cities.
A colorful urban tapestry from Boston to Washington
The culture of the automobile and the freedom that results from this were a determining factor in the American Dream – for the Boston/Washington region and the entire USA. More than that: The car gave a concrete shape to the American Dream.
The architects Höweler + Yoon showed vivid films of journeys to represent the “experience” of driving in an urban agglomeration: The traffic is too dense. Their vision is to charge “The New American Dream(s)” with fresh content and to lend it a contemporary upgrade with the help of infrastructure 2.0. In metropolitan regions like Boston/Washington or New York the task is to transfer established infrastructure into the digital age.“ Here the development of the smart street can play a decisive role: The street itself becomes a tool of control, exchanging information with participants in traffic and thus organizing an efficient flow of traffic”, said Peter Schwarzenbauer, Board Member for Sales and Marketing at AUDI AG, summarizing the result.
The high energetic potential of Istanbul
The situation of Istanbul is unique. Its geographical location restricts the options for public transport routes: the two halves of the city are divided by the Bosphorus, and the hilly country round about is unsuitable for rail tracks. The inhabitants therefore resort to self-help. Private transport companies, e.g. minibus operators, provide their services spontaneously, without fixed bus stops or an official timetable. The Superpool team of architects described these activities and sees a way of bringing together private initiatives and digital networking. After all, Istanbul is the city with the highest rate of Facebook use in Europe; social networks play a big part here.“ In Istanbul the car remains the number one means of getting around. Here we would like to know how infrastructure – for example through links to virtual networks – can be optimized. Istanbul could be a laboratory for the digital revolution and the comprehensive networking of the car”, explains the Chairman of the Executive Board of AUDI AG, Rupert Stadler.
Mumbai – Being Nicely Messy
In Mumbai everything is moving, especially space. This does not really mean that infrastructural spaces change. Rather it is functional spaces that interpenetrate and form new networks. This may sound abstract, but it is illustrated in cases where small traders set up shop in the staircase of a housing block or where families live and carry on their business on the street. The team of architects from CRIT clearly visualized this and provided many cogent explanations. Mumbai more than almost any other city represents extremely high density and a situation where space becomes an increasingly scarce resource. To organize mobility efficiently in this context means above all to manage the competition for space. And it becomes evident that it is not large-scale solutions that can provide relief here, but solutions that emerge from the local circumstances and are characterized by an understanding of the culture of the Mumbai region.
The great opportunity for the Pearl River Delta
Four cities form the metropolitan region of the Pearl River Delta in China. There are considerable differences between these cities, their history and their identity. The former British colony Hong Kong and the historic city of Guangzhou (Canton) contrast with the newly founded Shenzhen and Dongguan. The port of Hongkong exports goods which are mainly produced in the neighboring cities of the hinterland. The architects’ office NODE demonstrates that infrastructure should be embedded in the social context.“ In the Pearl River Delta we are experiencing massive upheaval at present. Soon 80 million people will be living here, 80 percent of them being migrants. We want to understand how we can assist and play a suitable part in shaping the transition to sustainable mobility by means of fitting infrastructure and access to it”, said Rupert Stadler.
São Paulo’s dynamic way of life
The architectural team Urban Think Tank notes that everything in this Brazilian metropolis revolves around movement, even though the city is associated with images of miles-long traffic hold-ups. For the two winners of the Global Holcim Award Silver 2012, movement is an improvised, spontaneous form of life. The architects presented initial ideas for a model of a flexible, diverse system of mobility. “ The example of São Paulo can teach us about unplanned urban developments – which may usually emerge from chaos, but often produce surprisingly intelligent solutions”, says Audi Board Member Peter Schwarzenbauer.
Tokyo – City as Landscape
On the subject of Tokyo, a striking experience took the conference participants by surprise. With his Far Eastern point of view, Junya Ishigami generated an entirely unaccustomed feeling for the city of the future. Tokyo was depicted not as a city but as landscape – as an interplay of natural and artificial, of organic and built phenomena. The boundaries are blurred here, and mobility has to be completely reconceived. Old, Western-dominated ways of thinking about infrastructure and urban planning are called into question. The winner of the Golden Lion prize at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010 (Best Project) did not present the precise interpretation of his vision: the architects’ offices are competing with each other, and only after the final public presentation of their urban visions on 18 October in Istanbul will a jury composed of international experts decide who is the winner of the Audi Urban Future Award 2012 with its prize money of 100,000 euros.
The insights from the conference are multi-faceted and have revealed new aspects of the six metropolitan regions that were chosen. In the coming weeks and months the Insight Team, a group of Audi experts from different departments of the company, will analyze and condense the results, and feed them into the company. The intense dialogue will continue – until the presentation of the Award in Istanbul in October, and beyond that time too.
For more information on the Audi Urban Future Initiative, please refer to the official homepage: www.audi-urban-future-initiative.com. Further material is available for downloading at the following link: www.audi-mediaservices.com.