Audi Urban Future Award 2012: Roadmaps for future mobility in the city

“We want to understand the city, in order to be able to shape the mobility of the future accordingly“, says Rupert Stadler, chairman of the executive board of AUDI AG. One thing is clear: urban structures increasingly determine mobility – and the figures speak for themselves. Around the year 1800 there were only three cities (London, Beijing, Tokyo) with one million inhabitants or more, but today there are already 442 such cities around the world. In 2030 it is probable that 70 percent of the world population will live in megacities, i.e. those with more than eight million residents. The Audi Urban Future Initiative – a think-tank on future mobility – is the framework within which Audi faces up to these challenges and discusses them.

Audi connect™ shows the way to a networked future
The ideas of Jürgen Mayer H., winner of the first Award in 2010, have already had a far-reaching influence on technical developments in the field of piloted driving. The vision of Mayer H. describes a complete networking of the city: all cars communicate with each other and with their surroundings, with the people, the infrastructure, the buildings. There are no longer parking spaces in this city of the future, as cars are continually on the move, and space is reclaimed for pedestrian zones. With Audi connect™ Audi already possesses many features of networked mobility: from navigation by Google Earth or Google Street View images to assistance systems that get drivers to their destinations relaxed and without accidents.

Audi is networking not only the automobile, but also itself as a company: in order to be able to better anticipate what demands will be made on mobility in the future, this maker of premium-range cars founded the Audi Urban Future Initiative. The Initiative is the umbrella for four components: Germany’s highest-value architecture prize – the Award; a symposium for networking knowledge – the Summit; and various projects under the heading Research. For the fourth component the Insight Team sets to work at the interface between internal know-how and external expertise: six employees of AUDI AG from the fields of Design, Communications, Technical Development, Brand Strategy and Corporate Strategy act as receptors for the impulses and convey them into the company.

Audi Urban Future Award 2012
Six global metropolises and their challenges in terms of infrastructure are at the heart of the Award, which is held every two years. Every city develops in an individual manner and in its own way provides impulses for social and structural changes. Mumbai in India, for example, is one of the most densely populated conurbations, and before long the Pearl River Delta will have a population of 80 million people. “As a maker of premium vehicles we have to take an interest in these changes, as new challenges to us and our business models result from them,“emphasizes Rupert Stadler.

For participation in the 2012 Award, Audi has invited six internationally renowned architecture offices who are distinguished by their expertise in the field of urban development and infrastructure planning in their metropolitan regions: CRIT (Mumbai); Höweler Yoon Architecture (Boston/Washington); Junya Ishigami + Associates (Tokyo); NODE Architecture Urbanism (Pearl River Delta); Superpool (Istanbul) and Urban-Think Tank (São Paulo). This year for the first time the architects are assisted by a local curator, who emphasizes that their work is relevant to and grounded in the city. 

Every city has its own character and special conditions, and is thus a laboratory for the future opportunities and risks of individual mobility. 

Boston/Washington: The Boston/Washington region developed rapidly after the Second World War: While the number of residents in the cities remained approximately constant, the suburbs grew from a population of six million to 30 million. The increasing flow of commuters places unprecedented strain on transport and traffic systems.

Istanbul: As a result of its topographical situation on the Bosphorus with waterways and the constant danger of an earthquake, there will be no future measures to relieve the road network in Istanbul, e.g. by means of extending the subway system. As a flourishing city, Istanbul will remain dependent on the automobile in the future. How can traffic gridlock be prevented?

Mumbai: With some 28,000 people per square kilometer, Mumbai has more than seven times the population density of Berlin. The city can no longer expand horizontally, but can only grow vertically. How do so many people move around in such a small space? Can intelligent mobility strategies solve the problems of this situation?

Pearl River Delta: Soon the Pearl River Delta will have a population of 80 million, approximately 80 per cent of them migrants. The region is searching for a new identity. Roads have been built to suit cars, and there is no public space for other participants in traffic (pedestrians, cyclists, etc.). Which forms of mobility can and will win out?

São Paulo: The industrial metropolis around São Paulo encompasses almost one tenth of the population of Brazil. São Paulo will merge with Rio de Janeiro at some time in the future – a phenomenon that poses entirely new challenges for infrastructure projects, and means that transport systems are unplannable. The infrastructure is being created to an extent in an uncontrolled, informal way. What can we learn from this?

Tokyo: Tokyo is extremely structured and technical. All forms of mobility (car, bus, rail) are fully mature. What does individual mobility mean here, and how does it function? How do people use different systems of transport, how do they interact with and complement each other?

City dossiers of the international architects
The architects’ task is to demonstrate possible solutions for the specific challenges of the metropolitan regions. The results of their research, consisting of information on social, technological and spatial factors, are intended to act as operating instructions for cities and provide ideas for a transition to sustainable mobility. In this process every city possesses varying potential for forward-looking integration of individual mobility.  “Our aim is to understand the particular local characteristics of cities and transform them into global trends. We use these results to push ahead the development of our innovative business units”, says Stadler.

The architects will present their initial ideas in spring 2012 during a workshop in Ingolstadt. Together with Audi experts they will discuss them and take a look behind the scenes in the company. It is an unusual course of action to allow external experts such deep insight into technology and development. However, the architects need knowledge of the technical capabilities and visions of Audi, in order to evolve it further or subject it to critical examination.

International jury selects the winning design in Istanbul
Audi will present the results of the competition in October in Istanbul. The award ceremony will also be held there: an international jury consisting of renowned experts will choose the winner. The winning project will form the basis for a detailed city dossier on demography, infrastructure and resources as well as providing an impulse to support and implement new long-term practical projects.

For the second Award, Stylepark AG is once again assisting Audi in the role of curator. Christian Gärtner, board member of Stylepark, looks forward to new findings and major breakthroughs: “In selecting the architecture offices we attached special importance to whether their past work made a significant contribution to understanding the development of their region. From this expertise in combination with Audi’s technological know-how we expect to gain specific ideas with realistic chances for implementation in the urban mobility of the future.”

You can find more information on the Audi Urban Future Initiative on the official homepage: Other material is available for downloading at the following link: