Toyota interweaves vision and reality
The name sounds like the title of a cinematic work. The idea is the fabric from which dreams are woven: With the "Woven City", the Toyota company wants to build the city of the future.
The model metropolis at the foot of Mount Fuji was commissioned personally by company boss Akio Toyoda, and work on his heart's project began in March 2021. The grandson of the company founder sums up the smart settlement as follows: "People live, work, play and participate here. It is a living laboratory. With people, buildings and vehicles all connected and communicating via data and sensors, we'll be able to test connected AI technology - both virtual and physical."
None other than star architect Bjarke Ingels is responsible for the urban planning. The Danish Bjarke Ingels Group has already caused a stir with a number of projects, including the Number 2 World Trade Center in New York, the Google headquarters or the spectacular CopenHill waste incineration plant, the roof of which the Danes covered with a grass surface for grass skiing.
The test city, which is planned for 2020 on a 175-hectare Toyota production site that has been decommissioned, will enable engineers and scientists to test different technologies in a real environment - from autonomous driving to robotics, artificial intelligence and smart homes. All energy will come from solar, geothermal and hydrogen fuel cells. A huge hydrogen storage and filter is planned under the city.
In Woven City, there are three different but interwoven types of roads: In addition to stretches for faster, automated-driving vehicles, there are sections for a mix of lower speed, personal mobility and pedestrian:inside, as well as for a pedestrian-only park-like promenade. These three street types weave together to form an organic grid pattern.
On the main roads, only fully autonomous, zero-emission vehicles are on the road to transport residents. The Toyota e-Palette will be used for transport and goods delivery as well as mobile retail. An underground road will be used to transport goods. And not only that, as architect Ingels explains: "From underground, the distribution of all the goods will also be controlled, and there will be a direct connection to the houses above.
People will work and live in the city's smart houses. They will serve as test objects for new technologies, for example, AI and home robotics will support everyday life by automatically taking care of domestic tasks: like filling up the fridge or disposing of the rubbish. Sensor-based AI checks the health of the residents.
The infrastructure of Woven City
The infrastructure of Woven City aims to create an environment where inventions are created to solve social problems. Initially, the city will be inhabited by 360 people, mainly senior citizens, families with young children, retailers and scientists. However, the city community is expected to grow to between 2,000 and 3,000 people, including Toyota employees.
The city is planned to be completely sustainable: Buildings made mainly of wood, using traditional Japanese wood joinery and robotic production methods, reduce the carbon footprint. Roofs feature photovoltaic panels to harness solar power in addition to electricity generated by hydrogen fuel cells. Toyota is also planning the city in harmony with nature - with native vegetation and hydroponics. The Woven City offers a spectacular view of the future - and of Mount Fuji.