Monday, 20 january 2020 | Redacción CEU
Can you imagine living in a city inhabited mainly by your coworkers? Can you imagine living in a city in which you can only travel by using self-driving cars? Can you imagine living in a city where your own home’s devices detect if you or any member of your family have health problems? What if this city has also been raised from nothing with the goal of being completely smart and sustainable? This is precisely the project presented by Toyota in the latest edition of the Consumer Electronic Show. This is an initiative called "Woven City". Is this proposal as ambitious as it sounds? How does the Japanese firm intend to achieve this? What exactly does its project consist of?
There are two words that help shape the most likely profile of the cities in the future: sustainability and intelligence. As we mentioned in one of our former articles, in order for a city to become what we popularly know as a "smart city", which also means that it can be distinguished by these two features, its designers and developers should necessarily focus on certain aspects such as habitability, environmental care, mobility and security. Likewise, their main goal should be keeping the well-being of citizens. Therefore, the professionals who work in this kind of metropolis have an ambitious and demanding job ahead.
Anyone may conclude that a project of such magnitude needs a lot of time to become viable. Nonetheless, what if instead of adapting a city that already exists, we build one from the ground up? In that case, could we be able to build a completely smart and sustainable city in record time? This is the idea that was probably in the head of Woven City’s promoters when they designed their project.
Woven City is a 175-acre city that Toyota wants to start building up at the base of Mount Fuji (Japan) next year. The firm describes this project as a "living laboratory" in which residents and researchers will be able to test and develop technologies such as self-driving cars, robots, personal mobility devices, smart homes and AI. They will do it in an immersive way and in a completely real context. The president of Toyota Motor Corporation, Akio Toyoda, explains the following about this project: <<Building a complete city from the ground up, even on a small scale like this, is a unique opportunity to develop future technologies, including a digital operating system for the city’s infrastructure. With people, buildings and vehicles all connected and communicating with each other through data and sensors, we will be able to test connected AI technology -in both the virtual and the physical realms-, maximizing its potential>>.
Then, who will be the inhabitants of this experimental city? Toyota intends to populate this city with its own employees and their families, as well as with retired couples, traders, visiting scientists and representative people from the sector, up to an initial figure of 2,000 inhabitants. This is an open project in which they propose the construction of different relationships in order to develop a wide range of solutions for what they define as "the world's first programmable city”. On their website, they invite those business partners who share this vision to join them: <<We welcome all those inspired to improve the way we live in the future, to take advantage of this unique research ecosystem and join us in our quest to create an ever-better way of life and mobility for all>>.
Toyota has assigned the design of this city to the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, who is the founder of the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). This is an architecture studio that already has extensive experience in ambitious projects, since some its creations are the Lego headquarters in Denmark or the skyscraper "Shenzhen Energy Mansion" in China. Among other things, the firm has revealed that to develop this project it will use solar and geothermal energy and hydrogen fuel cell technology. Its objective is to raise a carbon neutral society.
The city of Woven City will be organized according to three different types of roads. Only self-driving cars will be used on the first one. The second road will be used by slower personal mobility vehicles, such as scooters and bicycles, and pedestrians. The third one will be a path with green areas dedicated exclusively to the enjoyment of walkers. In none of these cases will vehicles be driven by people, and these vehicles will necessarily have to be within the category of zero emissions means of transport. The logistics of the city will be organized thanks to the Toyota e-Palette vehicles, and they will take place mainly under the city.
The design of this city aims to combine urban environment and nature without losing harmony. The buildings will be constructed mainly with wood, by combining traditional Japanese techniques and robotic production methods. Its roofs will be covered by photovoltaic panels and its homes will be equipped with modern human assistance technologies. Houses will also boast AI systems that can monitor the health status of their occupants. Each neighborhood will also have an area for leisure. In fact, the project also proposes the construction of a large central square that can be used for the celebration of important social events.
The CEU IAM Business School offers a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning and Development that is in the ranking of the best Spanish Master's Degrees carried out by El Mundo newspaper. It is a course that accumulates more than two decades of experience in its full-time version and thirteen years in its executive modality. CEU IAM MUOT’s students stand out for their multidisciplinary vision and high preparation for today’s challenges of the sector, as well as their high integration in the labor market and the occupation of positions of great responsibility. Contact us if you are thinking of becoming one of them!