Audi Urban Future: Project New York: Tangible models for Manhattan in 2030

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May 5, 2011

Source: Audi of America

· Audi Urban Future Initiative shows a New York of the future

· Visions of five up-and-coming architecture practices

· Up-to-the-minute blog on the Festival of Ideas for the New City

Ingolstadt, Germany – The word “Manhattan” conjures up images in everyone’s mind: The skyline, Time Square, Central Park and a city that never sleeps. And what about “Manhattan 2030”? Perhaps the skyscrapers are somewhat taller, the streets even more crowded? Anything is possible. That’s why five up-and-coming New York architecture practices have been thinking about urban planning, traffic and ecology in the year 2030 for the Audi Urban Future Initiative.

The project is part of the Festival of Ideas for the New City, an event held by the New Museum in New York from 4 to 8 May for which the Audi Urban Future Initiative is a sponsor. In cooperation with the architecture community Architizer, a model has been created, known as the Audi Urban Future: Project New York. This installation illustrates the ideas of the architects on a scale of 1:1200 in the Openhouse Gallery, New York, from 7 to 9 May.

The proposals of the five architecture practices are as different from each other as they are diverse. The Audi Urban Future Award 2010 pointed the way. Last year architecture practices from Beijing, London, Barcelona, Copenhagen and Berlin examined the issue of individual urban mobility in the year 2030. These five different approaches now serve as a basis for the New York architects. The next step is truly exciting: all these proposals are now being taken further and applied to New York. Five districts of Manhattan – East Side/Turtle Bay, Lower Manhattan, Hudson Yards Area, Washington Heights, Central Park West – have been chosen for the purpose.

Since early April teams at Leong Leong, Marc Fornes & THEVERYMANY, Matter Practice, Abruzzo Bodziak, and Peter Macapia/labDora have been at work on their various visions. The great challenge is to harmonize their creative future scenarios with each other and unite them to make a common model of Manhattan.

As in automobile design, where different design teams compete with their ideas and at the end the best designs are combined, the most promising and tangible approaches win through at the intersections and streets where the architects’ proposals meet. In this way versatile ideas for urban living space and mobility are generated.

Abruzzo Bodziak Architects

Abruzzo Bodziak Architects took their inspiration from Cloud9 (Barcelona). In their Award entry for the city of the future, Cloud9 put the focus on clean renewable energy or buildings that can simultaneously act as power stations by producing electricity. Emily Abruzzo and Gerald Bodziak plan to allow buildings in New York to get higher by 2030 – because of the lack of space – and so create as much surface area as possible for solar generators and thus a decentralized energy system. The energy produced will be sufficient to meet people’s needs, including their need for mobility.


LEONG LEONG base their plans on the visions of Standardarchitecture from Beijing. For the Award in 2010 this young architecture practice conceived streets that could be made into electric “travel belts”. They called for space to be freed up in the core of Chinese megacities and put to use for agriculture. Chris and Dominic Leong go one step further. They want to bring nature back into the city and allow a natural balance to arise – and make the city more resistant to environmental influences. This is made possible by gigantic net structures, which are suspended between the buildings and greened. By this means fauna can spread out across the city unimpeded. This approach may be extremely radical, says Dominic Leong, but today there are already many small opportunities to allow natural habitats to emerge in New York.

Marc Fornes & THEVERYMANY™

The city becomes a living organism – this is the holistic approach that Marc Fornes and THEVERYMANY are searching for. Their inspiration is the Award entry of Jürgen Mayer H. (Berlin), in which digital networking between people and infrastructure creates new space in the city. To achieve this, the buildings and the infrastructure of the Central Park West district are generated on a computer by means of complex calculations. The advantage of the sponge-like structures is that they adapt to the specific needs of people and the local conditions, and make ideal use of the space that is available.

Matter Practice

Matter Practice are guided by the proposals of Alison Brooks Architects (London), who gave attention to the question of the city within the city for the Award. They conceived neighborhoods with a comprehensive range of services directly at hand – and reduced the volume of traffic in this way. Matter Practice apply the idea to Washington Heights, specifically the twelve-lane Trans-Manhattan Expressway, a tunnel in the heart of Manhattan that is completely overloaded. Their idea is to break open the tunnel, slow down the traffic and create urban spaces. The flow of traffic will become part of city life: Cafés, room for pedestrians and new shops can come into existence.

Peter Macapia/labDORA

Inspired by the Award proposals of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), the team around Peter Macapia decided to develop the ideas of the Danish architecture practice from Copenhagen, whose vision of individual urban mobility in 2030 is based on conceiving streets equipped with a new, intelligent surface (“smart tiles”). Curbs and other barriers are removed in order to allow the greatest possible flexibility in public use. The digital road surface organizes a perfect interaction of different types of traffic and harmonizes the movements of pedestrians, bicycles and automobiles. labDORA’s work concentrates on Lower Manhattan and applies the parameters laid down by BIG to this microcosm.

From 5 to 9 May a blog written by design writer Avinash Rajagopal will make up-to-date reports about the events in New York. On the official homepage of the Audi Urban Future Initiative you can also find all the background information, as well as the latest texts and photos for downloading:

For information on the Audi Urban Future Initiative, see:


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