The winners of the Audi Urban Future Award 2012 are Boston/based Höweler + Yoon Architects. The competition result was announced last Friday in Istanbul and today we received their video presentation (see the video below). Their futuristic-utopian proposal “Shareway” proposes combining existing and new transportation infrastructure to create a single piece of mega-infrastructure which includes cars, trucks, regional and hi-speed trains as well as a new airport. It connects the “Boswash” region, stretching along the existing Interstate 95 over 725 kilometers from Boston to New York to Washington D.C. – a region with about 53 million inhabitants. In their drawings and animations the proposal looks like a three-dimensional mega-highway, figured in very fluid, very white forms in order to reduce the visual impact that this giant infrastructure project implies.
Eric Höweler and J. Meejin Yoon explain that their vision is basically an update (if not a revolution) of the support structures for the suburban American Dream of days past: “the single-family home, with a front lawn and two-car garage.” While within the “infrastructural leftovers of this now outdated dream” (in this case, the Interstate 95) possibilities emerge to create “alternate paths, different trajectories or new cultural dreams.” In addition to the attractive presentation and design, the concept is indeed very convincing. The new transport hubs along this highway would make it easy for people and cargo alike to switch in no time from car to train to plane and back.
John Thackara, chairman of the interdisciplinary jury, pointed out that “the winning entry is based on thorough research into its social and economic context; it involves both social and technical innovation at a system-wide level, and real architectural quality is evident in its execution.” He added that the Shareway also “has the potential to be realized, at least in part, within the 2030 timeframe prescribed by the competition.” To see this realized within the next 20 years would indeed be fascinating – and slightly disturbing, too. After all, this would be a vision turned into reality for 53 million people, initiated and powered by a single private car company and thus a deliberate shift turning the public planning sector private.