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Audi Urban Future Award 2012: Winner

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Ideas for the mobile future

The concept that won the 2012 Audi Urban Future Award comes from Boston. With its “Shareway” idea, the team of US architects Höweler and Yoon Architecture is revolutionizing the route between workplace and home – and, in so doing, is reinventing the American dream.

Audi Urban Future Award
Audi Urban Future Award
“Shareway” bundles individual mobility.
Audi Urban Future Award
The integrated “Shareway” creates new space in the cities.

From dishwasher to millionaire – the quintessence of the American dream held by generations! The dream of working your way up through hard work, dedication and ambition, regardless of your name or where you come from. The dream of owning your own house with a garden and a garage for the family vehicle. Is this the American dream of the past? It certainly is in the minds of Boston architects Eric Höweler and J. Meejin Yoon. The vision for the city of 2030 as conceived by the winners of the 2012 Audi Urban Future Award is no longer based on personal property. Sharing will become the core of the “New American Dream”, the dream of the future. The idea of sharing extends well beyond the conventional notion of car sharing or book lending; it includes homes, gardens and even roads. In the minds of the architects, this will solve the mobility problem of the American mega city.


“Mobility is such an integral part of the American dream that it simply cannot be separated”, explains architect Eric Höweler.


As things currently stand, traffic pressure is enormous: American citizens spent an average of four days stuck in traffic in 2010, adding up to a total of almost five billion hours of congestion. It is the commuters of the BosWash corridor along the eastern seaboard that are affected the most. The band of cities is 650 kilometers long, extending from Boston through New York City and Philadelphia to the capital Washington D.C.


Anyone who spends a lot of time on the road or rails knows that nothing is more stressful than losing time. Wouldn’t it be great if commuters could use this time in a more individual and sensible way? Wouldn’t it be far easier if we had airports, stations, parking garages and ports bundled together in one place? It is with such an architecturally and structurally demanding idea as this “Shareway” that the US architects want to revolutionize the American dream and the commute between workplace and home.

One crucial element of the concept is that all means of transport – from private car to commuter train – will be reorganized and regrouped. This “bundle” would extend through the entire BosWash corridor, home to more than 53 million people. The many different kinds of mobility on offer would become an overall system capable of recommending the best transportation options available to each individual via a mobile request system. Cities and suburbs would be efficiently connected and melded into a single urban space. The bundle is based on existing transportation routes such as Interstate 95, which would be converted into a “Shareway”. Instead of driving individually from A to B in separate cars, the huge streams of commuters would travel by high-speed train from the city center to the suburbs. The train offers time and space to work, enjoy some yoga and to read – sensible use of commuting time! For the last few miles there are loan cars that are simply and conveniently returned the next morning – the hassle of searching for a parking space disappears!


In cities like Newark with water access, the choice of transportation is even tougher. The city, which lies on the Atlantic Ocean and directly at the estuary of the Passaic River, has a major port. Here, too, the concept envisages a bundling of facilities, a “Super-Hub”, incorporating an airport, shipping port and a train station. Newark, which lies around 20 kilometers west of New York City would become the new “mobility capital”. It would first and foremost make goods transportation faster and more efficient, freeing up space on the roads.

Areas that were previously used for the construction of roads find new usage scenarios in the eyes of the architects – in the form of fruit orchards and vegetable farms for supply to the nearby area. In cities like New York, this idea is already being implemented on building roofs and unused plots. Here, the locals plant flowers and grow fruit. As well as space for cultivation, this would also provide more room for local recreation and green spaces for parks and playgrounds – of which there is currently a distinct absence. In Manhattan alone, roads occupy a total area of 4.8 square kilometers; an area four times greater than Central Park.


Thus, the architectural vision for 2030 envisages intelligent usage of the roads themselves. Höweler and Yoon propose a technical innovation in the form of a so-called “Tripanel”. The triangular, rotating panels show a face depicting asphalt, green space or solar collectors in accordance with requirements. Depending on the time of day, the space converts into a soccer pitch, an area of solar panels for generating electricity or a regular street. And all this happens right in the center of the city.


A distant vision of the future or science fiction? Not at all! In the state of Idaho, start-up business Solar Roadways is already developing the first solar module that can generate electricity from the road surface. The future has already begun. And Audi is already part of it with the ideas generated by the Audi Urban Future Award.



Source: Audi Technology Magazine Encounter 1/2013

Text: Stefanie Kern

Photos: Höweler + Yoon

Höweler + Yoon

Höweler + Yoon Architecture about the Audi Urban Future Initiative:

“The initiative truly has the potential to drive forward with realistic ideas the discourse between city planning, architecture and automotive technology. All these factors are important for a broader understanding of design.”

Audi Urban Future Initiative

Audi has now made its architectural award for the second time. It is a fixed feature of the Audi Urban Future Initiative that has been addressing the issues of mobility in the cities of the future since 2010. The Audi Insight Team represents an important anchor for the initiative within the company. The objective of the nine-member team is to take the momentum from the award and from broader dialogue with external partners on the issue of mobility and urban future, to discuss it and to transfer it into the company. The Insight Team brings together employees from a wide array of functions and departments (for example Technical Development, Corporate Strategy and Production).



Höweler & Yoon Architecture

Höweler & Yoon Architecture is the winner of the 2012 Audi Urban Future Award, which comes with a first prize of 100,000 Euro. “We were impressed by their vision for the BosWash region in the year 2030. They are continuing the American dream of freedom and individuality. A dream that also includes mobility,” says Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, outlining the decision of the jury at the award ceremony, which took place as part of the first Design Biennial in Istanbul. However, these ideas will not be hidden away in a drawer somewhere. The winning concept will now be used to create a City Dossier that will analyze and evaluate the BosWash region. This will take into account, not only social, but also spatial and technical aspects. This dossier will serve as a roadmap for the realization of some aspects of the concept in the winning region.

Audi Urban Future Award: Winner

Global thinking

Rethinking an holistic term for mobility, actively integrating social networks, putting goods transportation underground – all the participants in the Audi Urban Future Award proposed compelling, innovative ideas.


CRIT from Mumbai

The Indian team of architects defined an holistic notion of mobility that encompasses people, goods, energy and data and envisages the redesign of the limited space available within the city. CRIT seeks to approach city planning in a playful manner using self-developed ideas. For example, Mumbai’s typical “Skywalks” should be revived, expanding the network of pedestrian overpasses and creating more room for business and green spaces.



Superpool from Istanbul

Europe’s largest Facebook community lives in Istanbul. The team of architects from Superpool wants to use this potential to democratize city planning. To this end, they have developed the digitally controlled PARK system that organizes collective forms of mobility and administers a point system. This system rewards the transfer to public transport and, through points collected, inhabitants gain
the right to a say in the city planning process.



NODE Architecture & Urbanism from the Chinese Pearl River Delta

Until now, the focus in the region has been mainly on the transport of goods, with no thought given to pedestrians and cyclists. With its vision, NODE has created a balance between industrial production, natural resources and the quality of life of the almost 80 million people who live there. The idea is to put the entire logistics infrastructure underground and to turn the roads back into a public


Urban-Think Tank

Urban-Think Tank from São Paulo

The Brazilian idea envisages a concept that transforms São Paulo into a mobile “adventure playground”. Using the wide array of mobility options, city inhabitants can use apps to create their individual transportation experience – be it deep below the earth or in the sky. This new “Mobility Mix” also encompasses otherwise unused areas of the city – such as roofs and building facades. This generates
a new approach to life based on new forms of mobility.


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