It's actually rather elegant and understated for the Danish superstar.
Projects by the Bjarke Ingels Group, or BJARKE! as I tend to think of him, are ever getting bigger and crazier, to the point where I have often considered them inappropriate for TreeHugger or just complained about them. So I was surprised and impressed to see his design for Toyota Woven City, proposed for a former factory site near Mt. Fuji.
It's huge, covering 175 acres, the size Sidewalk Toronto wanted to be before they got slapped down to their original 12 acres. But the idea is similar:
Envisioned as a living laboratory to test and advance mobility, autonomy, connectivity, hydrogen-powered infrastructure and industry collaboration, Toyota Woven City aims to bring people and communities together in a future enabled by technology yet grounded in history and nature.
Watch the amazing video. It was first shown at CES; Curbed quotes the CEO:
“We have decided to build a prototype town of the future where people live, work, play and participate in a living laboratory,” said Akio Toyoda, CEO of the Toyota Motor Corporation. “Imagine a smart city that would allow researchers, engineers and scientists the opportunity to freely test technology such as autonomy, mobility as a service, personal mobility, robotics, smart home connected technology, AI and more, in a real-world environment.”
Toyota Woven City creates a new equality among vehicles, alternate forms of movement, people and nature, streamlined by the promise of a connected, clean and shared mobility. The city will utilize solar energy, geothermal energy, and hydrogen fuel cell technology to strive towards a carbon neutral society, with plans to break ground in phases beginning in 2021.
It's interesting to see what happens when a whole city gets Bjarked. Of course, the wheel has to be reinvented, and it's going to have some grand idea that is seductive but impractical, like the planning concept. The name Woven City comes from the way the streets are laid out and the different modes of transportation are separated.
The Woven City is conceived as a flexible network of streets dedicated to various speeds of mobility for safer, pedestrian-friendly connections. The typical road is split into three, beginning with the primary street, optimized for faster autonomous vehicles with logistical traffic underneath. The Toyota e-Palette – a driverless, clean, multi-purpose vehicle – will be used for shared transportation and delivery services, as well as for mobile retail, food, medical clinics, hotels, and workspaces.
So the blue cars go on the outside of a block with the commercial space. Note how these e-palette vehicles seem similar to the Hyundai rolling toasters we showed recently, essentially rolling coffee shops and food trucks. This must be a thing these days.
The pink bikes and yellow pedestrians get to come into the middle areas. It doesn't really work as promised; pedestrians can't get to the bottom left building and cyclists can't get to the upper right building without sharing the roads. But it sounds lovely:
The recreational promenade is occupied by micro-mobility types such as bicycles, scooters and other modes of personal transport, including Toyota’s i-Walk. The shared street allows residents to freely meander at a reduced speed with increasing amount of nature and space.© Look, there's Bambi!/ Bjarke Ingels Group
The third type of street is the linear park, a path dedicated to pedestrians, flora and fauna. An intimate trail provides a safe and pleasant environment for leisurely strolls and nature breaks through the ecological corridor connecting Mount Fuji to the Susono Valley.
Then it all gets distorted because a regular grid isn't Bjarke! enough, making all of the buildings more curvy and complicated.
The three street types are woven into 3×3 city blocks, each framing a courtyard accessible only via the promenade or linear park. The urban fabric of the woven grid expands and contracts to accommodate a variety of scales, programs and outdoor areas. In one instance, a courtyard balloons to the scale of a large plaza, and in another, to become a central park providing a city-wide amenity. Hidden from view in an underground network lies the infrastructure of the city, including hydrogen power, stormwater filtration and a goods delivery network dubbed the ‘matternet’.
I like that term, Matternet. Too bad it's already owned by a drone delivery company.
Like all of the new visionary cities, it's built out of wood, with a Japanese twist:
The buildings at the Woven City will advance mass timber construction. By combining the legacy of Japanese craftsmanship and the tatami module with robotic fabrication technology, Japan’s construction heritage lives on, while building sustainably and efficiently into the future.
A mix of housing, retail and business – to be built primarily of carbon-sequestering wood with photovoltaic panels installed on the roofs – characterize each city block, ensuring vibrant and active neighborhoods at all times of the day.
Toyota’s R&D spaces house robotic construction, 3D printing and mobility labs, while typical offices flexibly accommodate workstations, lounges and indoor gardens. Residences in the Woven City will test new technology such as in-home robotics to assist with daily living.
There is a story behind this building, probably the transportation center. It's got a ramp around the whole building going up to the roof and you can see the flying taxis coming in for a landing. I don't see the point of a monster ramp; is it so much trouble to use an elevator? It's much more sensible than the Hyundai version but really, can't people go outside anymore? Someday perhaps we will get the story.
These smart homes take advantage of full connectivity using sensor-based AI technology to perform functions such as automatic grocery deliveries, laundry pick-ups or trash disposal, all while enjoying spectacular views of Mt. Fuji.
I like this; it's not Bjarkish at all, subdued, understated and elegant. I hope it actually gets built, and that there is still snow on Mt. Fuji by the time it's completed.