CASE STUDY: Toyota Woven City
The Danish architecture practice will design a 175-acre urban incubator campus in the foothills of Mount Fuji for the Japanese car giant.
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Toyota Woven City will be “a living laboratory to test and advance mobility, autonomy, connectivity, hydrogen-powered infrastructure and industry collaboration.”
The vision was presented at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas by the CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda, and BIG Founder Bjarke Ingels.
“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,” said Toyoda.
The city will use solar, geothermal, and hydrogen fuel cell technology to strive towards a carbon neutral society, with plans to break ground in phases beginning in 2021.
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.
“Today the typical is mess – with everything and nothing happening everywhere. With the Woven City we peel apart and then weave back together the three components of a typical road into a new urban fabric: a street optimized for automated vehicles, a promenade for micro-mobility, and a linear park for pedestrians. The resulting pattern of porous 3×3 city blocks creates a multitude of different econiches for social life, culture and commerce. In an age when technology – social media and online retail – is replacing and eliminating our traditional physical meeting places, we are increasingly more isolated than ever. The Woven City is designed to allow technology to strengthen the public realm as a meeting place and to use connectivity to power human connectivity,” explained Bjarke Ingels, founder and creative director of BIG.
The recreational promenade will be 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 amounts of nature and space.
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.
Hidden from view in an underground network will lie the infrastructure of the city, including hydrogen power, stormwater filtration and a goods delivery network dubbed the ‘matternet’.
Leon Rost, partner at BIG, said: “The Woven City bridges the gap that exists today between vehicles and accessibility, by looking at mobility and public space as a symbiosis. Furthermore, by designing desirability as an element of accessibility – through nature, space and safety – we can ensure an active public realm in the city, especially for an aging Japanese population. As it happens Toyota was born in the 1920s as a loom company, helping people weave fabric. Now in 2020, the Woven City is a tribute to those origins while looking to the future of an urban fabric enabled by technology and mobility.”
The buildings at the Woven City will be designed to advance mass timber construction. By combining the legacy of Japanese craftmanship 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 – will characteriae each city block, ensuring vibrant and active neighborhoods at all times of the day. Toyota’s R&D spaces will 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. These smart homes take advantage of full connectivity using sensor-based AI technology to perform functions including automatic grocery deliveries, laundry pick-ups or trash disposal, all while enjoying spectacular views of Mount Fuji.
“As a replicable framework, the Woven City can serve both as a prototype for future cities and as a retrofit to current cities,” said Bjarke Ingels. “By simply ‘reprogramming’ existing streets, we can begin to reset the balance between people, mobility, and nature in cities as diverse as Tokyo or New York, Copenhagen or Barcelona.”
Toyota Woven City has the potential to lead as an example for how advances in mobility and technology will shape the physical world we live in. The Woven City is BIG’s first project in Japan and the latest masterplan unveiling following Oceanix City at the United Nations last year.
Click image to launch gallery. Images by Squint Opera and BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group