Not only in densely populated Japan, but also in other metropolitan regions of the world, is the car often the focus of future mobility concepts, and the trend towards remote work hasn’t just held since the coronavirus pandemic. Like many other car manufacturers, Toyota’s management is also concerned with the transformation from vehicle manufacturer to mobility service provider and is investing billions in Uber or the Asian alternatives called Didi Chuxing and Grab. But the Japanese industrial giant goes one step further and is now testing itself as a mastermind for urban life of the future. The company laid the foundation for its project, which was announced around a year ago, at the end of February 2021.
Open for partnerships
Toyota isn’t only interested in the industry’s usual development goals such as networking, autonomy, electrification, and sharing models: “We are pursuing the future of artificial intelligence, human mobility, robotics, materials science, and sustainable energy,” says Akio Toyoda. Instead of doing this in specialized laboratories around the globe, as is the case today, the company founder’s grandson asks: “Why not build a real city and have real people live in it and safely test all kinds of technology?” Partner companies, scientists, and engineers from all over the world are invited to develop their smart technologies for mobility, housing, and urban infrastructure. The model city, called Woven City, will initially have 2,000 inhabitants, but future expansion isn’t excluded. Initially, 360 people – mainly seniors, families with little children and inventors – are to live in Woven City. Later it will be 2,000, further expansion is not excluded.On the website, woven-city.global, interested parties can apply to participate as residents or as representatives of companies with their own ideas.
Woven network of traffic routes
Star architect Bjarke Ingels worked out the structural concept with Toyota’s management over a period of eight months. With this Woven City, the 45-year-old Dane, who made a name for himself with the construction of the Google headquarters in Mountain View and the 2World Trade Center in New York, is now setting the nucleus of a fully networked city of the future on 71 hectares, planned from scratch. “We started by splitting the typical street into three separate forms of mobility,” he explains. “The first type is for faster transportation and every vehicle is autonomous with zero emissions. The second type will be an urban promenade shared by pedestrians and slower personal mobility, and the final type of street will be a linear park with paths for pedestrians only.” Each of these three parallel traffic routes will be crossed to form a woven network of three by three blocks, which can be driven at a brisk pace or reached by a walk through the park. The strict structural separation according to traffic speed not only improves the quality of life but also safety.