Press release

Ingolstadt/Istanbul, 2012-10-18

The Audi Urban Future Award 2012: The Idea and the Participants

  • Award presentation in Istanbul: five architectural practices compete
  • Focus on international metropolitan regions: Boston/Washington, Istanbul, Mumbai, Pearl River Delta, São Paulo

Audi Urban Future Award 2012

A city like São Paulo with its “mobility blockages” gets moving. The streets of Shenzhen in the Pearl River Delta in China once again become places where people like to spend time. In the region between Boston and Washington the mobile “American Dream” is reinvented. A look at Mumbai focuses on human interactions that may seem insignificant at first sight but in fact maintain the economic development and dynamism of the city. And in Istanbul the behavior of inhabitants in public spaces expresses collective wishes related to mobility. These themes and – in part – dreams were tackled by five international architectural practices that are taking part in the Audi Urban Future Award 2012. Their designs are all about the future of mobility in the five metropolitan regions – about challenges and specific solutions, which ideally can be transferred to other cities and thus have an exemplary quality.

The architecture offices participating in the 2012 Award are CRIT (Mumbai), Höweler + Yoon Architecture (Boston/Washington), NODE Architecture & Urbanism (Pearl River Delta), Superpool (Istanbul) and Urban-Think Tank (São Paulo). In Istanbul each of these practices is presenting its vision for the future in an exhibition held on the occasion of the Design Biennial, which is being held there for the first time. At the end of the Award proceedings only one of them can win Germany’s most valuable architecture prize, with prize money of 100,000 euros. The curator of the project is the agency Stylepark.

The Audi Urban Future Award is characterized by its holistic view of mobility in cities of the future. Widely diverse subjects such as ecology and energy, traffic and transport, migratory flows and population explosions, digital communication and the dynamics of the economy therefore lie at the heart of the work of the five teams of architects. The architects were given the task of analyzing the greatest challenges for mobility in their own growing region and deriving visions for the year 2030 from the analysis.

The jury will assess their ideas according to whether they are convincing proposals for sustainable change and whether it is clearly recognizable how the interaction of mobility and existing architecture can be shaped effectively and attractively. It will present the Award to the vision that takes account of the full range of criteria and is at the same time the most innovative. On the basis of the winning proposals, the next step will be to create a detailed city dossier on demography, infrastructure and resources – a kind of instruction manual for implementing the idea in the metro­politan region concerned. The international jury, which will choose the winner on 18 October in Istanbul, consists of the following members: Diana Barco (Columbia), Adam Greenfield (USA), Harish Hande (India), Wang Lu (China), Jürgen Mayer H. (Germany), John Thackara (Great Britain) and Yeşim Ustaoğlu (Turkey), as well as the curator Christian Gärtner, board member of Stylepark AG (Germany), and Rupert Stadler, chairman of the executive board of AUDI AG (Germany).

The 2012 Award will be presented in the context of the first Istanbul Design Biennial (13 October  to 12 December,; Audi is seminar sponsor of the Biennial. The exhibition about the Award can be viewed from 12 to 26 October in the Hasköy Spinning Factory in Istanbul in partnership with the New Museum in New York City. In the framework of this cooperation a number of panel discussions will be held as part of the program “IDEAS CITY: Istanbul”:

Background to the Award: Issues connected with urbanism and mobility
For a long time Audi has taken social responsibility on many levels – for the purpose of a future with a high quality of life for generations to come. Protection of the environment, saving resources, international competitiveness and a forward-looking personnel policy form the basis of the company’s long-term success. The Audi Urban Future Initiative is integrated into this overall strategy in a coherent way. “A city should be home to people, not to problems. It should constitute our quality of life. It should be the source of the living pulse of our society,” says Rupert Stadler. “The winning proposal will subsequently be taken forward as a blueprint for Urbanism 3.0. This city dossier will be a specific set of instructions about how a city can be planned or remodelled in order to meet the challenges of the future.“

In the year 2030 it is expected that 70 percent of the world population will be living in megacities. They are the pacemakers of modern life – and traffic is their vital artery. However, mobility encounters extreme conditions here: too much traffic, too few parking spaces, poor air quality. The great challenges for tomorrow’s mobility are already apparent in big cities, because they are growing rapidly – often in an unrestricted, unplanned way. The future lies in cities, however, as urbanization is constantly on the increase. Many metropolitan regions in all parts of the world already demonstrate what it is like when traffic no longer flows and people are merely functioning beings. The city as space for humans to live in – is this yesterday’s invention? One thing is certain: cities of the future require comprehensive solutions that also react to the particular character and challenges of the region in question.

This is because each city has its own organic development. Each city is an autonomous player that automatically generates change – whether economic, infrastructural or social. One common trend, however, can already be ascertained: a change in the relationship between individual and collective mobility, between piloted driving and public transportation. Comprehensive traffic systems increasingly show the way ahead. So what characteristics will the car of the future need in order to show its worth as a team player? What does it mean for a car to become an interface, to communicate with neighboring buildings and people on the street? What challenges does this imply for cities, the design of streets, offices and homes – and above all for the people who will live and work here and in dynamic new city communities?

The Audi Urban Future Initiative – a powerhouse of thinking for future mobility
Leading architecture and urban planning offices all round the world are already occupied with the questions outlined here in connection with urbanism and mobility. Audi seeks to engage in dialogue with these thinkers and planners of tomorrow‘s modern cities. The Audi Urban Future Initiative, which was established in 2010 and of which the Award presented every two years is an integral part, pushes this dialogue forward and allows what is learnt in the process to take root in the company. Because Audi aims to provide impulses not just outwardly, but inwardly too. This means engaging in research and at the same time finding out how Audi as a company can itself learn more and already take account today of challenges facing the automobile of the future in its strategic product planning.

Audi would like to know what an individual car that fits compatibly into the traffic network will look like, how the car can interact with the city, the environment and the people there, and what opportunities virtual space offers for a new infrastructure. Here the Audi Insight Team has a key role. Nine Audi experts from various departments of the company are involved in the whole process, from the definition of the tasks to the presentation of the Award. The Insight Team “translates” what is learned about the latest developments into the company and ensures that impulses are received in the right places: in Technical Development, in Design, in Marketing and in other strategically important departments.

For more information on the Audi Urban Future Initiative please refer to the official homepage or to

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