Magazine
12 décembre 2019

Repenser la mobilité pour concevoir des villes pour l'homme

Max Schwitalla

Max Schwitalla est un architecte qui est tombé amoureux de l'architecture et du design urbain grâce au skateboard. Il dit que la mobilité a toujours été présente dans sa vie. Depuis six ans, il envisage l'avenir des environnements urbains avec sa petite équipe de cinq personnes passionnées au Studio Schwitalla, un studio de recherche et de design basé à Berlin qui travaille à l'intersection de l'architecture, de la mobilité urbaine et du design urbain. Il est passionné par les nouvelles formes de mobilité urbaine qui permettent de concevoir les villes de demain comme des lieux de haute qualité de vie.

Lors de Shared Mobility Rocks, l'un de nos événements partenaires qui aura lieu le 8 octobre à Bruxelles (attention à nos sessions sur la mobilité en tant que service, les boucles de rétroaction et les rêves de mobilité partagés pour 2030), il parlera de la relation entre la mobilité et l'espace urbain immobile à une échelle systématique.

L'invention de l'ascenseur en 1845 a radicalement changé la façon dont les bâtiments étaient construits et, avec l'apparition de la cabine, les rues ont été conçues en fonction de ses besoins au XXe siècle. Vous travaillez actuellement sur des projets avec des entreprises de voitures et d'ascenseurs, qui, comme vous l'avez dit, font partie du problème auquel nous sommes confrontés. Quelle est votre approche de ces collaborations ?

Aujourd'hui, nous voyons des villes comme LA qui sont conçues pour la voiture ou New York qui est conçue autour de l'ascenseur. Nous comprenons maintenant que ces villes ont des limites économiques, écologiques et sociales en termes de durabilité. Nous parlons donc à ceux qui sont coresponsables de ces problèmes, comme on pourrait dire. La société d'ascenseurs Schindler, par exemple, est très intéressée à savoir comment ils peuvent franchir l'étape suivante et contribuer à une nouvelle utopie urbaine. Ces entreprises travaillaient auparavant selon un modèle b2b, car les ascenseurs sont vendus aux constructeurs, et non aux clients finaux. En développant des relations b2c, elles sont très ouvertes, intéressées par la recherche et l'établissement de nouvelles collaborations ainsi que par la possibilité de proposer de nouvelles solutions architecturales plus adaptées à l'échelle humaine et à la durabilité urbaine.

C'est un peu plus complexe avec les producteurs automobiles établis, car ils semblent protéger et défendre leurs valeurs traditionnelles. En revanche, les entreprises comme e.GO Mobile, qui sont nouvelles sur le marché, sont plus ouvertes pour repenser les anciens concepts. Dans tous les cas, ces collaborations sont une situation gagnant-gagnant. Les entreprises mondiales s'engagent avec les planificateurs et les concepteurs pour produire des idées intéressantes et participer à une communauté de conception plus large.

Existe-t-il un équivalent de l'ascenseur et de la voiture en 2019 qui soit aussi influent pour l'avenir de l'habitat et de la mobilité ?

Le développement le plus passionnant réside dans l'application de différentes échelles à la mobilité, en particulier dans un environnement urbain. La micro-mobilité à petite échelle et électrique est une véritable révolution. Nous pouvons penser au-delà de la combinaison traditionnelle d'un parking souterrain pour les voitures en bas et d'un ascenseur à l'intérieur du bâtiment - comme les vélos électriques pour monter les étages sur les rampes par exemple.

Nous devons dépasser l'idée de posséder une voiture, mais offrir de multiples choix de mobilité en fonction de l'évolution des besoins quotidiens. L'ensemble de notre système de mobilité doit être innové par le partage de l'économie et des innovations technologiques à l'échelle humaine.
Micro Mobilité Quartier II par Studio Schwitalla

Récemment, les premières séries de vélos partagés sont apparues dans des villes comme Paris et Berlin, je pense qu'elles constituent un pas important dans la bonne direction. La première phase d'innovation s'accompagne généralement de bouleversements et de problèmes, mais je suis sûr qu'ils pourront être surmontés dans les cinq prochaines années. Nous devons trouver le moyen de déployer ces nouvelles offres de manière responsable. Les autorités municipales et les gouvernements locaux doivent fournir des conseils.

Actuellement, nous traversons une phase d'apprentissage - la jeune génération va, espérons-le, grandir pour avoir plus de respect pour les offres communes. La chaux, par exemple, offre un modèle de répartition des responsabilités dans la société urbaine. Vous pouvez gagner de l'argent en rechargeant les batteries de leurs vélos chez vous.

Nous devons établir une responsabilité urbaine.

Parfois, quand je vois un vélo tombé, par exemple, je le ramasse et je le remets à sa place, en espérant que les gens le voient et agissent de la même manière.

Vous avez souligné l'importance de dépasser le concept de propriété de la voiture. Quels sont les choix les plus importants à faire lors de la conception d'un projet pour un taux de motorisation nul ?

Tout d'abord, nous devons concevoir des quartiers mixtes à petite échelle, car un scénario d'utilisation du sol qui offre un mélange de fonctions, comme le commerce, les bureaux et le résidentiel, réduit la nécessité de conduire loin pour faire des courses par exemple. Nous devons nous concentrer sur la qualité de vie et concevoir les espaces en conséquence. Le fait de ne plus être propriétaire d'une voiture peut avoir d'autres avantages financiers pour les citoyens : Nous pouvons offrir un espace de vie plus abordable si nous pouvons réduire la construction coûteuse de parkings souterrains. En tant qu'architectes et urbanistes, nous devons donc inclure des alternatives comme les voitures partagées ou d'autres solutions de mobilité lorsque nous concevons des projets.


Micro Mobilité Quartier II par Studio Schwitalla

Dans un entretien récent Bryce Willem et Antonin Yuji Maeno affirment que l'ordinateur portable est l'une des technologies qui changent la façon dont nous réinventons les villes : les gens peuvent travailler à domicile, les chambres à coucher adoptent des usages multiples et deviennent des bureaux à temps partiel et les entreprises économisent de l'espace de bureau. Ils prédisent que nous devrons concevoir des espaces plus flexibles et adaptables et répondre à de nouveaux types de communautés alors qu'ils observent le déclin de la famille mononucléaire. Comment les villes de demain devraient-elles être conçues pour répondre à nos besoins et assurer une réponse adéquate à la crise climatique ?

Je suppose que l'économie de partage aura un impact sur les structures sociales. La façon dont nous vivons, en couple, en famille, en appartement partagé, au sein de communautés, dans des relations polyamoureuses, etc. a un impact sur l'espace dont nous avons besoin, le nombre de pièces privées dont nous avons besoin, les fonctions que nous voulons partager. Les solutions architecturales sont loin de répondre à ces différents besoins. Nous avons exploré cette tendance en collaboration avec une entreprise automobile et avons conçu un mini appartement de seulement 27 m² pour minimiser l'empreinte privée. L'idée était que les fonctions plus publiques de l'appartement pouvaient s'ouvrir pour générer un espace partagé supplémentaire entre les unités.

Le problème avec de nombreux modèles de coexistence alternatifs émergents comme WeLive est qu'ils promeuvent un mode de vie hautement commercialisé. Les locataires s'achètent une communauté et la vie se transforme en service ou en produit.

Nous devons réfléchir à la manière dont nous pouvons rendre plus de responsabilités aux citoyens, sur les marchés établis mais aussi sur les marchés en croissance. Par exemple, les résidents pourraient aider à construire leurs appartements grâce à un partenariat privé/public. Les autorités locales chargées du logement pourraient fournir les infrastructures de base, les revêtements de sol et les toitures, et les habitants pourraient terminer eux-mêmes leur propre environnement bâti : Notre concept d'"étagère urbaine", par exemple, a été inspiré par des ateliers organisés avec des étudiants au Brésil. Un tel modèle devrait être adapté au marché européen, mais je suis sûr que la conception sera plus participative à l'avenir.

Un autre cas que nous observons est celui de WeWork à Berlin. Leurs locataires sont souvent de grandes entreprises qui veulent offrir à leur personnel un petit congé de la vie de bureau traditionnelle et les envoyer dans des espaces de travail coopératif assez coûteux. Une autre question cruciale, outre celle de l'accessibilité de la vie, est celle des espaces de travail abordables dans les villes. Comment pouvons-nous soutenir les micro-entreprises ? Et comment ces petites entreprises de 5 à 10 employés peuvent-elles former des réseaux de collaboration multidisciplinaire et offrir des services plus flexibles ?

Comment prendre en compte les aspects sociaux d'une transition vers des villes sans voitures ? Quels choix de conception pourraient rendre la transition à la fois durable et socialement acceptable pour ceux qui vivent dans l'étalement urbain ?

Il serait beaucoup plus facile de parvenir à un taux de motorisation zéro dans les environnements urbains denses, mais certaines solutions fonctionnent aussi très bien dans les zones rurales. Les modèles alternatifs de covoiturage privé qui permettent de louer une voiture chez un voisin par exemple, fonctionnent bien. Une autre solution est le transport public à la demande ou le covoiturage. Quand j'avais environ 15 ans, nous avions partagé des taxis de nuit que nous devions réserver 30 minutes à l'avance. "BerlKönig", une version numérique avancée de ce modèle est maintenant appliquée par le BVG à Berlin par exemple et cela fonctionne également dans les zones rurales comme un concept de transport de masse à la demande. Ce type de transport à la demande permet de réduire la taille des navires et de répondre à la demande dynamique. Dans les zones urbaines et rurales, nous devons penser, plus petit encore en termes de micro mobilité.

Les pôles de mobilité contribueront également de manière importante à la création d'environnements sans voiture : Des lieux qui nous permettent de quitter notre voiture et de changer de moyen de transport facilement et qui nous encouragent à utiliser différents modes de transport plus fréquemment.

Ma vision est celle de pôles de mobilité conçus comme nous le faisions pour les gares - les cathédrales du XXe siècle : des lieux de grande qualité spatiale associés à d'autres services.

Avez-vous des idées sur la manière de "réparer" les paysages urbains dévastés par la possession d'une voiture et l'étalement urbain ?

Je pense que le plus crucial est d'avoir une influence décisive sur toutes les infrastructures qui seront construites dans les prochaines décennies.

Avec le réchauffement climatique, les problèmes d'approvisionnement en énergie et l'urbanisation croissante, notre plus grand devoir est de ne pas répéter les erreurs du passé.

Comme les villes doivent être attrayantes pour attirer les talents, nous devons les concevoir pour les gens et non pour les voitures.

Quel est un projet dont vous êtes particulièrement fier pour la façon dont il répond aux défis que vous avez cités plus haut ?

Si nous voulons changer la façon dont nous construisons nos villes, ce n'est pas seulement à l'échelle de la construction ou de la planification urbaine à grande échelle - mais nous devons également changer l'échelle de la planification et de la pensée dans les quartiers. À ce niveau, la plupart de nos travaux sont encore conceptuels, mais nous mettons en œuvre ces idées petit à petit dans le cadre de concours maintenant. L'architecture et l'urbanisme prennent évidemment beaucoup de temps et réagissent relativement lentement aux nouveaux défis.

Sur ce chemin - de la vision à la réalité - nous croyons au pouvoir des images. Les animations, les films et même les jeux deviennent pour nous des outils de communication plus importants pour stimuler la discussion sur l'avenir de nos villes.

Le "Tübinger Regal" est un projet de logement pour réfugiés où nous avons pu mettre en œuvre certaines idées que nous avons développées pour le concept de "plateau urbain" à l'échelle d'un bâtiment. Nous avons retourné le bâtiment à l'envers avec une circulation extérieure par des escaliers et l'accès aux balcons offre une expérience plus agréable car les couloirs sombres. Cet espace de circulation ouvert permet une interaction sociale entre les différents habitants, les réfugiés et les étudiants. Nous avons utilisé un peu de béton et des matériaux écologiques pour la façade extérieure, comme le bois et les briques recyclées. Nous avons également présenté un concept de mobilité pour ce bâtiment, comprenant une voiture partagée sur le site ainsi qu'un parking à vélo pratique. Nous pouvions donc réduire le nombre de parkings que nous devions construire en vertu de la réglementation et consacrer plus d'espace aux personnes - et c'est ce qui compte : Plus d'espace pour les personnes et moins d'espace pour les voitures !

Tübinger Regal de Studio Schwitalla

De quoi allez-vous parler à Shared Mobility Rocks ? Quels sont les "bords" que vous voyez dans votre travail ?

Je présenterai notre travail, je ferai le point sur notre expérience et je partagerai des propositions qui, je l'espère, inspireront certaines personnes. Pour nous, la limite la plus importante à repousser dans les années à venir est notre imagination. L'espace urbain est tridimensionnel, mais la mobilité est toujours organisée en plan, en 2d. J'aimerais mettre notre imagination au défi de penser en 3ème dimension. Je ne préconise pas le transport individuel au-dessus de nos têtes, je pense que les drones pourraient bien fonctionner, mais laissons le terrain se défaire, laissons la gravité s'installer dans nos esprits et construisons de meilleures villes !

Shared Mobility Rocks aura lieu le 8 octobre à Bruxelles. Ouishare organisera des sessions sur les boucles de rétroaction pour promouvoir les services de mobilité partagés, la mobilité en tant que service et les rêves de mobilité partagés pour 2030.

Repenser la mobilité pour concevoir des villes pour l'homme

par 
Theresa Fend
Magazine
1er août 2019
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INTERVIEW with Max Schwitalla. How can we transform our cities through small-scale solutions, mobility hubs and citizen participation, putting sustainability and quality of life at the center ?

Max Schwitalla

Max Schwitalla is an architect who fell in love with architecture and urban design through skateboarding. He says mobility was always present in his life. For the past six years he has been envisioning the future of urban environments with his small passionate team of five at Studio Schwitalla, a Berlin based Research and Design Studio working at the intersection of architecture, urban mobility and urban design. He is passionate about new forms of urban mobility that enable the design of future cities as places with high quality of life.

At Shared Mobility Rocks, one of our partner events that will take place on October 8th in Brussels (watch out for our sessions on mobility as a service, feedback loops and shared mobility dreams for 2030),  he will talk about the relation of mobility and the immobile urban space on a systematic scale.

The invention of the elevator in 1845 radically changed the way buildings were constructed and with the appearance of the car, the streets were designed after its needs in the 20th century. You are currently working on projects with both car and elevator companies, which you mentioned are part of the problem we currently face. What’s your approach to these collaborations?

Today we see cities like LA that are designed for the car or New York that is designed around the elevator. We now understand that these cities have economic, ecological and social limits in terms of sustainability. So we talk to those who are co-responsible for these problems, as you could say. The elevator company Schindler for example is very interested in learning how they can take the next step and contribute to a new urban utopia. These companies used to work after a b2b model as elevators are sold to builders, not the end-customers. In developing b2c relationships they are very open, interested in research and establishing new  collaborations as well as the possibility to propose new architectural solutions that are more geared to the human scale and urban sustainability.

Its a bit more complex with established car producers, because they seem to be protecting and defending their traditional values. Companies like e.GO Mobile however, who are new on the market are more open to rethink old concepts. In any case, these collaborations are a win-win situation. Global companies engage with planners and designers to produce interesting ideas and to participate in a wider design community.

Is there an equivalent to the elevator and car in 2019 that is as influential to the future of habitat and mobility?

The most exciting development lies in applying different scales to mobility, especially in an urban environment. Small scale and electric micro mobility are a real revolution. We can think beyond the traditional combination of underground parking for cars below and an elevator within the building - like e-bikes to move up floors on ramps for example.

We need to get over the idea of car ownership but offer multiple mobility choices based on daily changing needs. Our entire mobility system needs to be innovated through the sharing economy and tech innovations on a human scale.
Micro Mobility Neighborhood II by Studio Schwitalla

Recently the first sets of shared bikes appeared in cities like Paris and Berlin, I think they are an important step in the right direction. The first phase of innovation typically comes with turmoil and problems, but I am sure they can be overcome in the next 5 years. We have to figure out how we can deploy these new offers in a responsible way. City authorities and local governments have to provide guidance.

Currently, we are going through a learning phase - the younger generation will hopefully grow up to have more respect for shared offers. Lime for example offers a model to distribute responsibility in the urban society. You can earn money by charging their bikes' batteries in your home.

We have to establish an urban responsibility.

Sometimes when I see a fallen bike for example, I pick it up and put it back and hopefully people see that and act in similar ways.

You stressed the importance of getting over the concept of car ownership. What are the most important design choices to make when designing a project for zero car ownership?

First, we need to design small scale mixed-used neighborhoods, because a land use scenario that offers a mix of functions, like commercial, offices and residential reduces the need to drive far in order to go shopping for example. We need to focus on quality of life and design spaces accordingly. Getting over car ownership can have further financial benefits for the citizens: We can offer more affordable living space if we can reduce costly construction of underground parking. So as architects and planners, we have to include alternatives like shared cars or other mobility solutions when we design projects.


Micro Mobility Neighborhood II by Studio Schwitalla

In a recent interview Bryce Willem and Antonin Yuji Maeno say that the laptop is one of the technologies that are changing how we reinvent cities - people can work from home, bedrooms rooms adopt multiple purposes and become part-time offices and companies save office space. They predict that we will need to design spaces that are more flexible and adaptable and cater to new types of communities as they observe the decline of the mononuclear family. How should future cities be designed to meet our needs and ensure an adequate response to the climate crisis?

I assume the sharing economy will have an impact on social structures. The way we live, as couples, in families, in shared apartments, within communities, in polyamorous relationships and so on has an impact on how much space we need, how many private rooms we need, which functions we want to share. The architectural solutions are far behind to meet these different needs. We explored this trend in collaboration with a car company and designed a mini apartment with just 27m² to minimize the private footprint. The idea was that the more public functions of the apartment could open up to generate additional shared space between the units.

The problem with many of the emerging alternative co-living models like WeLive is that they promote a highly commercialized way of living. Tenants buy themselves into a community and living turns into a service or product.

We need to think about how we can give more responsibility back to citizens, in established but also in growth markets. For example  residents could help to build their apartments through a private/public partnership. Local housing authorities could provide the basic infrastructure, flooring and roofing and the people could finish their own built environment themselves: Our “Urban Shelf” concept for example was inspired by workshops with students in Brasil. Such a model would need to be adjusted for the European market but I am sure there will be more participatory design in the future.

Another case we are observing is WeWork in Berlin. Their tenants are often big companies who want to offer a little holiday from the traditional office life to their staff and send them to quite expensive co-working spaces. Another crucial question next to affordable living is affordable working spaces in cities. How can we support micro businesses? And how can these small business units of maybe 5 to 10 employees form networks for multidisciplinary collaboration and offer more flexible services?

How can we take the social aspects of a transition to zero-car owned cities into account? What design choices could make the transition both sustainable and socially acceptable for those who live in urban sprawl?

Zero car ownership would be much easier to achieve in dense urban environments, but some solutions also work very well in rural areas. Alternative models of private car sharing that allow you to rent a car from a neighbor for example, work well. Another solution is public transport on-demand or ride-sharing. When I was about 15 years old we had shared night taxis that we had to book 30min in advance. “BerlKönig” a digitally advanced version of this model is now applied by BVG in Berlin for example and this also works in rural areas as an on-demand mass transportation concept. Such on-demand transport allows for smaller vessel sizes and meets the dynamic demand. In urban and rural areas we have to think, smaller again in terms of micro mobility.

Mobility Hubs will be an important contribution to car-free environments as well: Places that allow us to leave our car and change transportation easily and encourage us to use different transportation modes more frequently.

My vision are mobility hubs designed like we used to design train stations - the cathedrals of the 20th century: places of high spatial quality paired with other services.

Do you have ideas on how to "repair" urban landscapes devastated by car ownership and urban sprawl?

I think the more crucial part is to have a decisive influence on all the infrastructure that will be built in the next decades.

With global warming, energy supply issues and the growing urbanization our biggest duty is not to repeat our mistakes from the past.

As cities need to be attractive to compete for talent, we have to design them for people not for cars.

What is a project that you are particularly proud of when it comes to how it answers to the challenges you named earlier?

If we want to change the way how we build our cities, it’s not just on the building scale or the large-scale urban planning – but we also have to change the scale of planning and think in neighborhoods.  On this level most of our work is still conceptual but we implement these ideas little by little in competitions now. Architecture and urban planning obviously takes a very long time and reacts relatively slow to new challenges.

Along this path - from vision to reality - we believe in the power of images. Animations, movies and even gaming become more important to us as communication tools to stimulate the discussion about the future of our cities.

The “Tübinger Regal” is a refugee housing project where we were able to implement some ideas we developed for the concept of the “urban shelf” on a building scale. We turned the building inside-out with an exterior circulation through stairs and balcony access offer a more pleasant experience as dark hallways. This open circulation space enables social interaction between the different inhabitants, refugees and students. We used a little as concrete as possible and used ecological materials in the exterior façade like wood and recycled bricks. We also presented a mobility concept for this building, including a station based shared car on site as well as convenient bike parking. Therefore we could reduce the amount of car parks that we had to construct by regulations and dedicate more space to people – and that’s what matters: More space for people and less space for cars!

Tübinger Regal by Studio Schwitalla

What are you going to talk about at Shared Mobility Rocks? What are the “edges” you see in your work?

I will be introducing our work, looking back on our experience and share proposals that will hopefully inspire some people. For us, the most important boundaries to push in the coming years is our imagination. The urban space is three dimensional, yet mobility is always organized in plan view, in 2d. I would like to challenge our imagination to think in the 3rd dimension. I am not advocating individual transportation above our heads, I think drone buses could work well, but let’s loose ground, let’s loose gravity in our minds and lets build better cities!

Shared Mobility Rocks will take place on October 8th in Brussels. Ouishare will be holding sessions on feedback loops to promote shared mobility services, mobility as a service and shared mobility dreams for 2030.

by 
Theresa Fend
Magazine
August 1, 2019

Rethinking mobility to design cities for humans

by
Theresa Fend
Magazine
Share on

INTERVIEW with Max Schwitalla. How can we transform our cities through small-scale solutions, mobility hubs and citizen participation, putting sustainability and quality of life at the center ?

Max Schwitalla

Max Schwitalla is an architect who fell in love with architecture and urban design through skateboarding. He says mobility was always present in his life. For the past six years he has been envisioning the future of urban environments with his small passionate team of five at Studio Schwitalla, a Berlin based Research and Design Studio working at the intersection of architecture, urban mobility and urban design. He is passionate about new forms of urban mobility that enable the design of future cities as places with high quality of life.

At Shared Mobility Rocks, one of our partner events that will take place on October 8th in Brussels (watch out for our sessions on mobility as a service, feedback loops and shared mobility dreams for 2030),  he will talk about the relation of mobility and the immobile urban space on a systematic scale.

The invention of the elevator in 1845 radically changed the way buildings were constructed and with the appearance of the car, the streets were designed after its needs in the 20th century. You are currently working on projects with both car and elevator companies, which you mentioned are part of the problem we currently face. What’s your approach to these collaborations?

Today we see cities like LA that are designed for the car or New York that is designed around the elevator. We now understand that these cities have economic, ecological and social limits in terms of sustainability. So we talk to those who are co-responsible for these problems, as you could say. The elevator company Schindler for example is very interested in learning how they can take the next step and contribute to a new urban utopia. These companies used to work after a b2b model as elevators are sold to builders, not the end-customers. In developing b2c relationships they are very open, interested in research and establishing new  collaborations as well as the possibility to propose new architectural solutions that are more geared to the human scale and urban sustainability.

Its a bit more complex with established car producers, because they seem to be protecting and defending their traditional values. Companies like e.GO Mobile however, who are new on the market are more open to rethink old concepts. In any case, these collaborations are a win-win situation. Global companies engage with planners and designers to produce interesting ideas and to participate in a wider design community.

Is there an equivalent to the elevator and car in 2019 that is as influential to the future of habitat and mobility?

The most exciting development lies in applying different scales to mobility, especially in an urban environment. Small scale and electric micro mobility are a real revolution. We can think beyond the traditional combination of underground parking for cars below and an elevator within the building - like e-bikes to move up floors on ramps for example.

We need to get over the idea of car ownership but offer multiple mobility choices based on daily changing needs. Our entire mobility system needs to be innovated through the sharing economy and tech innovations on a human scale.
Micro Mobility Neighborhood II by Studio Schwitalla

Recently the first sets of shared bikes appeared in cities like Paris and Berlin, I think they are an important step in the right direction. The first phase of innovation typically comes with turmoil and problems, but I am sure they can be overcome in the next 5 years. We have to figure out how we can deploy these new offers in a responsible way. City authorities and local governments have to provide guidance.

Currently, we are going through a learning phase - the younger generation will hopefully grow up to have more respect for shared offers. Lime for example offers a model to distribute responsibility in the urban society. You can earn money by charging their bikes' batteries in your home.

We have to establish an urban responsibility.

Sometimes when I see a fallen bike for example, I pick it up and put it back and hopefully people see that and act in similar ways.

You stressed the importance of getting over the concept of car ownership. What are the most important design choices to make when designing a project for zero car ownership?

First, we need to design small scale mixed-used neighborhoods, because a land use scenario that offers a mix of functions, like commercial, offices and residential reduces the need to drive far in order to go shopping for example. We need to focus on quality of life and design spaces accordingly. Getting over car ownership can have further financial benefits for the citizens: We can offer more affordable living space if we can reduce costly construction of underground parking. So as architects and planners, we have to include alternatives like shared cars or other mobility solutions when we design projects.


Micro Mobility Neighborhood II by Studio Schwitalla

In a recent interview Bryce Willem and Antonin Yuji Maeno say that the laptop is one of the technologies that are changing how we reinvent cities - people can work from home, bedrooms rooms adopt multiple purposes and become part-time offices and companies save office space. They predict that we will need to design spaces that are more flexible and adaptable and cater to new types of communities as they observe the decline of the mononuclear family. How should future cities be designed to meet our needs and ensure an adequate response to the climate crisis?

I assume the sharing economy will have an impact on social structures. The way we live, as couples, in families, in shared apartments, within communities, in polyamorous relationships and so on has an impact on how much space we need, how many private rooms we need, which functions we want to share. The architectural solutions are far behind to meet these different needs. We explored this trend in collaboration with a car company and designed a mini apartment with just 27m² to minimize the private footprint. The idea was that the more public functions of the apartment could open up to generate additional shared space between the units.

The problem with many of the emerging alternative co-living models like WeLive is that they promote a highly commercialized way of living. Tenants buy themselves into a community and living turns into a service or product.

We need to think about how we can give more responsibility back to citizens, in established but also in growth markets. For example  residents could help to build their apartments through a private/public partnership. Local housing authorities could provide the basic infrastructure, flooring and roofing and the people could finish their own built environment themselves: Our “Urban Shelf” concept for example was inspired by workshops with students in Brasil. Such a model would need to be adjusted for the European market but I am sure there will be more participatory design in the future.

Another case we are observing is WeWork in Berlin. Their tenants are often big companies who want to offer a little holiday from the traditional office life to their staff and send them to quite expensive co-working spaces. Another crucial question next to affordable living is affordable working spaces in cities. How can we support micro businesses? And how can these small business units of maybe 5 to 10 employees form networks for multidisciplinary collaboration and offer more flexible services?

How can we take the social aspects of a transition to zero-car owned cities into account? What design choices could make the transition both sustainable and socially acceptable for those who live in urban sprawl?

Zero car ownership would be much easier to achieve in dense urban environments, but some solutions also work very well in rural areas. Alternative models of private car sharing that allow you to rent a car from a neighbor for example, work well. Another solution is public transport on-demand or ride-sharing. When I was about 15 years old we had shared night taxis that we had to book 30min in advance. “BerlKönig” a digitally advanced version of this model is now applied by BVG in Berlin for example and this also works in rural areas as an on-demand mass transportation concept. Such on-demand transport allows for smaller vessel sizes and meets the dynamic demand. In urban and rural areas we have to think, smaller again in terms of micro mobility.

Mobility Hubs will be an important contribution to car-free environments as well: Places that allow us to leave our car and change transportation easily and encourage us to use different transportation modes more frequently.

My vision are mobility hubs designed like we used to design train stations - the cathedrals of the 20th century: places of high spatial quality paired with other services.

Do you have ideas on how to "repair" urban landscapes devastated by car ownership and urban sprawl?

I think the more crucial part is to have a decisive influence on all the infrastructure that will be built in the next decades.

With global warming, energy supply issues and the growing urbanization our biggest duty is not to repeat our mistakes from the past.

As cities need to be attractive to compete for talent, we have to design them for people not for cars.

What is a project that you are particularly proud of when it comes to how it answers to the challenges you named earlier?

If we want to change the way how we build our cities, it’s not just on the building scale or the large-scale urban planning – but we also have to change the scale of planning and think in neighborhoods.  On this level most of our work is still conceptual but we implement these ideas little by little in competitions now. Architecture and urban planning obviously takes a very long time and reacts relatively slow to new challenges.

Along this path - from vision to reality - we believe in the power of images. Animations, movies and even gaming become more important to us as communication tools to stimulate the discussion about the future of our cities.

The “Tübinger Regal” is a refugee housing project where we were able to implement some ideas we developed for the concept of the “urban shelf” on a building scale. We turned the building inside-out with an exterior circulation through stairs and balcony access offer a more pleasant experience as dark hallways. This open circulation space enables social interaction between the different inhabitants, refugees and students. We used a little as concrete as possible and used ecological materials in the exterior façade like wood and recycled bricks. We also presented a mobility concept for this building, including a station based shared car on site as well as convenient bike parking. Therefore we could reduce the amount of car parks that we had to construct by regulations and dedicate more space to people – and that’s what matters: More space for people and less space for cars!

Tübinger Regal by Studio Schwitalla

What are you going to talk about at Shared Mobility Rocks? What are the “edges” you see in your work?

I will be introducing our work, looking back on our experience and share proposals that will hopefully inspire some people. For us, the most important boundaries to push in the coming years is our imagination. The urban space is three dimensional, yet mobility is always organized in plan view, in 2d. I would like to challenge our imagination to think in the 3rd dimension. I am not advocating individual transportation above our heads, I think drone buses could work well, but let’s loose ground, let’s loose gravity in our minds and lets build better cities!

Shared Mobility Rocks will take place on October 8th in Brussels. Ouishare will be holding sessions on feedback loops to promote shared mobility services, mobility as a service and shared mobility dreams for 2030.

by 
Theresa Fend
Magazine
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