by Meghna MehtaNov 02, 2019
Toyota Motor Corporation and Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) have joined hands to bring to life the Toyota Woven City as the world’s first urban incubator dedicated to the advancement of all aspects of mobility at the foothills of Mt. Fuji in Japan.
Akio Toyoda, president, Toyota Motor Corporation, announced at the CES (Consumer Electronic Show) 2020 the plans to build a prototype town of the future. He said Toyota believes this project to be a small but significant step on their part to make this world a better place, as a company committed to mobility for all. The project’s name draws inspiration from Toyota’s heritage as it started as a loom company. “Toyota actually began as a loom manufacturer. We didn't start by building cars, we began by weaving fabric and now we hope to use our technology to weave together a new kind of city and a new way of enjoying life,” said Toyoda.
The first invention of Toyota Industries Corporation was a wooden handloom setup by Sakachi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Industries Corporation, in 1890, which was further converted into a handloom factory.
Adhering to the firm’s more than a century old tradition, the Woven City aims to bring people and communities together in a future enabled by technology yet grounded in history and nature. A 175-acre former factory site is being envisioned as a living laboratory to test and advance mobility, autonomy, connectivity, hydrogen-powered infrastructure and industry collaborations.
Situated in the city of Susono in Shizuoka, Toyota Woven City aims to create a new equality among vehicles, alternate forms of movement, people and nature. "Building a complete city from the ground up, even on a small scale like this, is a unique opportunity to develop future technologies, including a digital operating system for the city's infrastructure," says Toyoda.
The Woven City has been conceived as a flexible network of streets dedicated to various speeds of mobility for safer, pedestrian-friendly connections. The various modes of transport include the Toyota e-Palette – a driverless, clean, multi-purpose vehicle – which will be used for shared transportation and delivery services, as well as for mobile retail, food, medical clinics, hotels, and workspaces. The recreational promenade is designed to occupy micro-mobility types such as bicycles, scooters and other modes of personal transport, including Toyota’s i-Walk.
The street has been split into three types - the primary street optimised for faster autonomous vehicles with logistical traffic underneath, the second shared street will allow residents to meander at a reduced speed with nature, and the third street has been designed as a linear park with dedicated pedestrian-paths.
Bjarke Ingles, the principal architect at BIG, explains the design using these three layers, “These three types of streets will then weave together into a woven grid of 3 x 3 city blocks, each framing a local park or courtyard. This not only creates a more serene living environment but also provides a wide variety of intersections between various kinds of users; humans, animals, vehicles, and robots to help accelerate Toyota's testing of autonomy and smart city infrastructure.”
Tucking the supporting facilities below ground level, an underground network incorporates the infrastructure of the city, including a hydrogen power, storm water filtration and a goods delivery network, called the ‘matternet’. The buildings have been designed to be built with advanced mass timber construction. Continuing the tradition of Japan’s construction heritage, the project combines the legacy of Japanese craftsmanship and the tatami module with robotic fabrication technology, while building sustainably and efficiently for the future.
Working towards a sustainable environment, the Woven city has been designed using carbon-sequestering wood with photovoltaic panels installed on the roofs – characterising each city block, ensuring vibrant and active neighbourhoods. Toyota’s many experimental and innovative research and development spaces that house robotic construction, 3D printing and mobility labs, will be an important part of the urban design of the complex. The residences at the Woven City will test new technology such as in-home robotics 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 the Mt. Fuji.
“In an age when technology, social media and online retail is replacing and eliminating our natural meeting places, the Woven City will explore ways to stimulate human interaction in an urban space. After all, human connectivity triggers well-being and happiness, productivity and innovation,” said Ingles.
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, becomes a central park providing a city-wide amenity.
Toyota plans to populate the Woven City with Toyota Motor Corporation employees and their families, retired couples, retailers, visiting scientists and industry partners. The plan is to accommodate 2000 people at the beginning, adding more as the project evolves. The city is being designed to utilise solar energy, geothermal energy and hydrogen fuel cell technology to strive towards a carbon neutral society, with plans to break ground in phases. The construction will begin in 2021.
Name: Toyota Woven City
Location: Susono, Shizuoka, Japan
Client: Toyota Motor Corporation + Kaleidoscope Creative
Area: 7,08,200 sqm
Collaborators: Squint Opera (Animation), Mobility in Chain (Transportation Consultants), Atelier Ten (Sustainability)
Architects: Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG)
Partners-in-Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Leon Rost
Project manager: Yu Inamoto
Project leader: Giulia Frittoli
Team: Agla Egilsdottir, Alvaro Velosa, Brian Zhang, Fernando Longhi, Jennifer Son, John Hein, Joseph Baisch, Mai Lee, Margherita Gistri, Minjung Ku, Nicolas Lapierre, Peter Sepassi, Raven Xu, Samantha Okolita, Shane Dalke, Thomas McMurtrie, Yi Lun Yang, Nasiq Kahn, Jeffrey Shumaker