Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Executive Board, AUDI AG
Istanbul/ SUADA, 2012-10-18
Speech at the presentation of the Audi Urban Future Award 2012
Ladies and gentlemen, good evening!
We at Audi and our partners in the Audi Urban Future Award are taking on the task today of documenting what is required for the city of the future. For me this evening is not only about the presentation of an award. The contributions by the five participating architecture offices that we on the jury have seen were fascinating from start to finish – there is no doubt about that. But more than this is at stake. The theme for me today is a specific set of instructions about the path to Urbanism 3.0.
After the first Award in 2010 the reaction we heard was sometimes: That’s all well and good, these ideas you have – but isn’t it a bit too abstract? That was a important comment. In a few minutes we will present the winning proposals for this year’s Award. And we have decided that we are going to take them forward in the coming months, starting from today – to produce a city dossier. The dossier will analyze and assess a city in
- and spatial terms.
At the end of this we expect to have an impulse for long-term practical projects. This dossier will be a specific set of directions about how to plan or remodel a city in order to meet the following challenges: Increased urbanization accompanied by
- more smog
- more traffic
- more noise
and at the same time less and less space for ourselves.
We are experiencing a global trend towards increased density. Since 2010, for the first time, more people worldwide have been living in cities than in the country. In 2030 5 billion people will be living in cities – compared with 3.5 billion in the country. The consequence will be conurbations that get larger and denser. In China there are already more than forty cities of a million residents. Worldwide there are ten mega-cities with a population of more than ten million people. After Mexico City, Shanghai and Beijing Istanbul takes fourth place in this ranking.
When I took a few days of vacation here with my wife a little while ago, I knew straight away: We must hold the Award ceremony here! What makes me so enthusiastic about this city? Istanbul is the city of opposites:
On the one hand a maze of winding historic streets. On the other hand an international traffic hub with airports, bus stations, highways and a harbor.
On the one hand mosques, fine residences and palaces. On the other hand skyscrapers in the Levent business quarter.
Seen as a whole: An old city with a history going back 2600 years – in which at the same time more young people live than anywhere else in Europe. Ideas, cultures and continents meet here. And this city seems to succeed in reconciling opposites or at least not allowing them to conflict. The bridge over the Bosphorus is a powerful symbol of that. For only forty years it has linked Europe to Asia. What better place could there be for for building bridges, for talking about cities of the future, than this melting pot of 13 million people?
With the Audi Urban Future Award it is precisely the diversity of mobility schemes from the world’s great metropolitan regions that is the spice of life. Because no one city is like the others. In the run-up to this award presentation, we the jury have become acquainted with five proposals for sustainable mobility in the year 2030 that truly provide food for thought.
The architecture office of Superpool from Istanbul have thought about how things might work if social networks could take part in decisions to make urban planning more democratic. And Superpool have made a case for breathing life into public spaces again by pushing back the infrastructure.
The architects at CRIT from Mumbai in India Have defined mobility in holistic terms, encompassing people, goods, energy and data. They aim to shape the urban space to achieve a fair balance of interests between the different social classes in Mumbai and have developed tools with a playful character to do this. The bottom line is: higher quality of life.
NODE from the Pearl River Delta in China want to create a balance between industrial production, natural resources and quality of life. People should be at the center of attention. Streets should function as public spaces and network people by real and virtual means.
Urban-Think Tank from Sao Paulo in Brazil, the fourth group, have had thoughts in all directions: traffic on the roads, beneath the ground, in the air. The architects have merged means of transport with each other over varying distances. They have also demonstrated how mobility can overcome social barriers, and how a new lifestyle can arise that is based on new forms of mobility.
And Höweler + Yoon Architecture from BosWash, the Boston–Washington economic region, have shown to us how the division between the city and the suburbs can be removed, how urban wasteland can be used better, in order to grow food for the region how to commute more flexibly and efficiently and how to make traveling time into quality time.
I’m not going to reveal to you now who the winner is. But I’m happy to reveal to you the reason why we as a car maker are committed to making life in cities more worth living. Why we want to help in the task of organizing urban life. If you are permanently in search of progress, you must also have the courage to rethink and call the status quo into question. That is the core of our corporate culture.
We at Audi have always been pioneers who break new ground. We have always been ambitious enough to extend our lead – our Vorsprung – day by day. That is why we have been treading unfamiliar, largely new territory with the Audi Urban Future Initiative in the last three years. We see this involvement as part of our responsibility as a business. A city should not be home to problems but to people. It should be what gives us our quality of life. It should be the source of the vital pulse of our society.
At first sight it might seem unusual that a maker of automobiles should take up the issue of cities and urban structures in order to learn from them, that a maker of cars should question the automobile as we know it today. However, is taking a look beyond the horizon of your own products really so unusual?
Mobility in cities should continue to be enjoyable in the future. We see cities and mobility not only from a technological but also from a sociological and cultural perspective. In doing so, we aim to:
- unify knowledge
- connect different worlds
- create networks of people.
The bridge over the Bosphorus is an example showing that it always takes people
- who think laterally
- who have the courage to create something new
- who can win over other people for their ideas,
however out-of-the-ordinary they may seem. That is the only way to create truly ground-breaking innovations!
For three years now I have taken great pleasure in being the patron of Audi Urban Future Initiative. And in this period I have come to the following conviction: You have to think mobility forward and take up a different perspective, the perspective of sociologists and urban planners.
And here you have to reflect about some issues that are undoubtedly complex. For example:
- What social tensions arise through the up-and-coming middle class in Mumbai?
- What can we learn about the mobility solutions that the poorest people in São Paulo have thought up?
- Or: How do social media influence life in Istanbul?
Insights from these and other questions are treated in an open and systematic manner in our company. We give impulses for change and permanently call into question what we are doing. This is an essential driver of new success. In the context of the Audi Urban Future Initiative, conversely, we also share our knowledge, for example with the architects of this year’s Award.
This is an experiment that no other company has so far undertaken in this form. Who apart from us would allow third parties to look inside our Technical Development? We have embraced uncertainty. And so far that has been extremely successful.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Many of us reside, work and live in cities. That is why we must also learn to understand them. Their peculiarities and special characteristics, and – if you like – the principles of how they work. And the expectations of people. In spite of globalization cities contain a high degree of local identity. For cities of the future, therefore, there is no single construction plan that is universally applicable.
And what is true of the city can also be applied to future mobility: No-one can master its challenges alone.
- No government
- No company
- No social network
But by means of cooperative and interdisciplinary work it can be done.
This is why we are delighted to have been able to gain Mark Wigley as a partner In the Audi Urban Future Initiative. In his capacity as dean of the Faculty of Architecture at the renowned Columbia University in New York he has founded a think tank which together with Audi is researching the future of cities and in doing so is going beyond the urbanism research of the present.
For example, the project is studying asymmetrical mobility: A mix of various informal and formal kinds of mobility that we can see here too in Istanbul on a daily basis. We will use developments like this, taken to extremes, as the basis for new reflection about cities of the future. We are not only thinking about the year 2030, but decades further ahead. Nobel Prize-winners, lawyers and traffic experts in this think tank are radically rethinking cities and mobility.
Their aim is: ten hypotheses on ten relevant urban themes.
Mark Wigley is a protagonist of deconstructivism in architecture. This movement newly identifies structures and forms and reveals instabilities. The insights that the Audi Urban Future Initiative has gained in the last three years will be input into this project. Here we see ourselves as an interface between visionary approaches on the one hand and the sober reality of the business world on the other hand.
Here we are also supported by Christian Gärtner, board member of Stylepark AG, who acts as curator in our Award. He will take the stage in a moment.
Ladies and gentlemen,
What would the world be without visions? Think of Atlantis – an island that originally had a rural character, and rose to be a strong maritime power.
Plato gave a detailed description of Atlantis:
- large, rich in natural resources and precious metals
- two harvests per year
- built in concentric circles from the middle
- an ingenious system of waterways
- in a nutshell: Atlantis was just perfect.
There is just one problem: Today, nobody knows whether Atlantis really existed – or whether it was only a myth.
Let’s not look for the perfect city!
Let’s call to mind the strengths of our cities.
Let’s uncover our historic roots again.
Cities used to be much more communicative than they are today. Let’s make them once again places where people enjoy living.
Thank you very much.