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Audi Urban Future Award: The Latest Architecture and News

How Driverless Cars Could, Should - and Shouldn't - Reshape Our Cities

In the race to bring driverless cars from a futuristic fantasy to a present-day reality, developers have touted a plethora of advantages, from reduced traffic congestion on roads to improved safety thanks to the elimination of human error. But the potential widespread implementation of driverless cars could also have profound impacts on the form of our urban environments, fundamentally reshaping infrastructure and land use. As recently as a year ago, this new technology was seen as decades away; however, recently Elon Musk, CEO of electric car maker Tesla, predicted that driverless cars will be capable of making cross-country treks within about two years, and a pilot program in the United Kingdom city of Milton Keynes plans to launch a fleet of driverless pod-taxis by 2018, matching Musk’s timeline.

The driverless car future could be just around the corner, and the normally slow-changing infrastructure of cities could be forced to apply quick fixes to adapt. At the same time, the full potential of driverless cars cannot be realized without implementing significant changes to the urban fabric. So how will driverless cars change how our cities work, and how will our cities adapt to accommodate them?

Smart Moves for Cities: The Urban Mobility Revolution Will Start With These 3 Projects

A smart city isn’t necessarily a city brimming with technology. This crucial (and, thankfully, growingly accepted) clarification was strongly emphasized by a panel of experts during the Smart City Expo in Barcelona. However, the piloted driving—which, in layman's terms means cars that drive themselves—that Audi has been testing and implementing is as high-tech, impressive and brimming with technology as one might expect. Beyond the “ooh and aah” factor of a car that needs no human driver, the spatial implications for our cities are undeniable, and the sooner architects can learn to work with and appreciate this technology, the better. In a city equipped with smart mobility solutions, we can expect technology to drive positive changes to social behavior and the affordability of the cities. But for this, we need visionary leaders.

Last week Audi showed their commitment to finding these visionary leaders in the field of architecture by announcing the implementation of three Urban Future Partnerships in Somerville/Boston and Mexico City. In the words of Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, the three pilot projects represent a key move for the car manufacturer: “The development of an investment logic for mobility infrastructure in cities will be an integral part of our company strategy.”

Audi Urban Future Award 2014: Team Berlin's "Flywheel" Could Revolutionize Personal Mobility

One of three runners-up in the 2014 Audi Urban Future Award, the Berlin Team of Max Schwitalla, Paul Friedli and Arndt Pechstein proposed a futuristic and innovative concept for an entirely new type of personal transport. Drawing inspiration from sources as diverse as elevator technology and biomimicry, their designs offer a thought-provoking alternative to our existing transportation systems that could revolutionize the city as we know it.

Though their proposal ultimately lost out to Jose Castillo's Team Mexico City, the work of the Berlin team correlates closely with the aims of Audi's Urban Future Initiative, offering a compromise between the convenience and status of personal transport and the civic benefits of public transport. Read on to find out how this was achieved.

The "Flywheel" concept proposes a modular personal transport system that would connect with other units to save road space. Image © Audi Urban Future Initiative Proposal for the "Flyway" on the Siemens Line. Image © Audi Urban Future Initiative The Flyway would connect Tegel Airport to Jungfernheide station. Image © Audi Urban Future Initiative Audi worked with Team Berlin to create a series of possible designs for the "Flywheel" concept. Image © Audi Urban Future Initiative + 19

Audi Urban Future Award 2014: Transforming Urban Mobility Through “Data Donors”

Every two years Audi hosts the Audi Urban Future Award (AUFA), which challenges cities from different parts of the world to investigate future mobility trends and come up with innovative solutions. This year AUFA selected Mexico City, Boston, Berlin and Seoul to participate in the challenge and respond to the question: how will data shape mobility in the megacities of the future? These four groups were asked to create a vision for how their city could use data in a strategic way, taking into consideration innovative energy solutions, sustainability, feasibility and the potential for their ideas to be implemented in other cities.

Mexico City’s team took home first place with their “operative system for urban mobility,” which centered around a data platform that cities can use to structure their urban traffic planning. Their system was also based around the idea that citizens themselves can become “data donors” and use the system to make informed decisions on how they move about the city. The team was comprised of architect and urbanist José Castillo, researcher Carlos Gershenson and the city government’s experimental lab “Laboratorio para la Ciudad.”

Learn more about the winning project after the break. 

"A New Online Marketplace for Mobility" Wins 2014 Audi Urban Future Award

“A New Online Marketplace for Mobility,” an innovative proposal by city planner Philip Parsons and mobility expert Federico Parolotto that aims to optimize mobility in megacities, has been named the first participant in the Audi Urban Future Award 2014. Selected from a shortlist of three, the winners will now assemble a team of urban designers in order to pursue their visionary idea. Read more about their winning proposal, here.

Cast Your Vote for the Audi Urban Future Award 2014

How will data shape mobility in future mega-cites? This is precisely what three innovation teams are striving to answer for the 2014 Audi Urban Future Award. Review each team’s revolutionary idea after the break and cast your vote on the most innovative solution here. The winner of the voting will be announced by Audi's CEO, Rupert Stadler, at the International CES in Las Vegas on January 6, 2014, and will be one participant in next year's Audi Urban Future Award.

Höweler + Yoon Architecture and Audi to Develop Pilot Project for BosWash: Shareway 2030

Last year interdisciplinary architecture firm Höweler + Yoon Architecture were announced the winners of the Audi Urban Future Award for the project Boswash:Shareway 2030. The City Dossier in Boston, held this May, was organized as a series of workshops between Höweler + Yoon Architecture and Audi experts in developing steps to realize aspects of the Boswash: Shareway vision. Part research project, part feasibility study, part road map to the future of mobility - the focus of the workshops is to propose a pilot project that can be tested in the proposed region of Boston - Washington.

We featured the project last year as it highlights how the landscape of urban development has changed. The focus of "Shareway" is the string of high-density metropolitan areas, their suburbs and ex-urbs along I-95 between Boston, MA and Washington, DC. The I-95 corridor caters to some fifty million inhabitants, many of whom commute into metropolitan areas for work. Mobility and transportation are critical to the economic vitality of these urban areas; "Shareway" proposes an intentionally re-engineered "highly orchestrated and deliberately produced platform from which we might imagine alternate paths, different trajectories, or new cultural dreams" whereby imagining an "alternate life for the road" is imagining a new American Dream.

Read on for more on the progress of this project after the break.

Höweler + Yoon Architecture wins Audi Urban Future Award 2012

Eric Höweler and J. Meejin Yoon of Höweler + Yoon Architecture have been announced as winners of the Audi Urban Future Award 2012, an international architecture competition focused on the future of urban mobility in the five metropolitan regions Boston/Washington, Istanbul, Mumbai, Pearl River Delta, and São Paulo. With “Shareway”, the Boston firm’s winning proposal called for the reinvention of the Boston-Washington, D.C., metropolitan region called “Boswash”.

Höweler+Yoon Architecture was one of the five architectural offices that were selected for the competition. Other participating firms were Superpool (Istanbul), CRIT (Mumbai), Node Architecture & Urbanism (Pearl River Delta), and Urban-Think Tank (São Paulo).

We had the chance to interview the practices and ask them about the role of the architect in our society. We also talked to Eric Höweler about this project during the awards ceremony, video coming soon.

Project Description by Höweler+Yoon Architecture: