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Audi Urban Future Awards

Mon, 14 Jun 2010 00:00:00 -0700

Audi has challenged six international architects to present their vision for a future urban landscape that will explore the interplay between mobility, architecture and the city. The winner of the Audi Urban Future Awards will receive a €100,000 prize to be presented at the Venice Biennale in August.

Phase one has been completed, with the contestants presenting their hypothesis for the city of the future at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London in May. The architects are an interesting selection of avant-garde practices from various world locations: Alison Brooks Architects (London), BIG (Copenhagen), Cloud 9 (Barcelona), Diller Scofidio + Renfro (New York), J. Mayer H. Architects (Berlin) and Standardarchitecture (Beijing).

The project presented an opportunity to explore the wider urban picture, and the teams involved have collectively shown an interest in integrating personal mobility with public and shared transport. There has been an understandable emphasis on exploring sophisticated information technology systems for expanding the role of the car.

"Urban space and movement co-evolve in a constant feedback loop where each part is evolving to adjust to the other," founder of Danish firm BIG, Bjarke Ingels, told CDN. In his vision future mobility will be automated with the driverless car changing the dynamics of the urban space, "changing not only the way we utilize our existing physical environment, but how we plan for new urban life forms." Diller Scofidio + Renfro also believe that evolving mobility concepts will change the future of the city, as will the city the shape of mobility.

Alison Brooks proposes downsizing the car and utilizing these micro cars by introducing personalized removable control systems so that the vehicle becomes a mobile architectural space. She would like to see more interaction between the car and buildings, saying: "Diffuse vehicles around buildings like movable pods and use energy-producing buildings as power sources."

J. Mayer H Architects has a similar vision. Its founder Jurgen Mayer told us: "Individual mobility of the future will strongly be linked to the developments of digitally augmented urban spaces, automated driving and personalized data exchange between the human body and its environment."

Standardarchitecture created a vision for Beijing of 2030. Its founder Zhang Ke has divided the city into interior and exterior mobility. Outside electric cars will be the primary means of travel, inside electric cycles and ‘Audi Bubbles' - a small personally adapted space that travels on and between the travel belts. All this will coexist alongside a supporting metro system. He said: "New patterns of urbanization will change our concept of mobility, and the change in our mobility concept will drastically change the future of the city."

Cloud 9, on the other hand, has almost designed its own car. ‘Barcelona's Empathic Car' aims to absorb the energy from various sources including a possible crash. Its founder Enric Ruiz-Geli told us: "We would like to imagine a soft skin with photovoltaic dots which contribute to energy production."

The six firms initially met with Head of Audi Group Design Wolfgang Egger and Head of Audi Design Stefan Sielaff in Ingolstadt to discuss electrification, multimedia networking and the impact of these technologies on automotive design.

For Audi, sponsoring this project makes sense - it is good to be seen financing something of this nature, but also helps formulate their vision for green mobility. Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Audi, said: "In shaping the future of the automobile, it is important to analyze trends and look beyond one's own back yard." He thought it interesting that most of the architects addressed personal mobility, confirming that the car as an object that is here to stay.

Egger added: "For me cars are like urban furniture. What we as car designers would like to find out is how to continue with individual mobility in a future urban environment."

By Nargess Shahmanesh Banks