sThe city is what you make of it. Lissie Kieser has turned an abandoned concrete plant in southwest Munich into an event. Beer garden, basketball court, mountain bike court, climbing wall, skate park, event area: Sugar Mountain is the name of an artistic, cultural and sports area that will have to come back again soon. Because: A new quarter will be created here in 2023. Here’s what’s happening in the city: “It’s a creative outgrowth of the people who help shape it,” says Kieser, who once studied art history, worked as a restaurateur at Cookies Cream in Berlin and ran the pop-up hotel The Lovelace in Munich. “One might look back and say, ‘At Sugar Mountain, experience what urban life might look like.'”
Creative use of urban spaces
Kieser is one of those who presented and discussed their experiences and ideas about future life in the city in “The Sooner Now.” In today’s conversation about the city of tomorrow – this is the idea behind the MINI platform “The Sooner Now”. At events and on the website, the automaker regularly brings together people from business, media, architecture, art and politics to present their vision for the sustainable city of tomorrow. It is about, for example, how to use urban space creatively. The reason: such ideas are already in high demand today, but above all in the future, especially in large cities that are becoming increasingly overcrowded – tangible, but also quite realistic.
Urbanization – Cities are getting bigger and bigger
According to estimates by the United Nations (UN), the world’s urban population will increase by approximately one billion to 5.2 billion people by 2030. For comparison: in mid-2021, about 4.5 out of 7.9 billion people lived in cities. And while there are currently 34 cities with a population of over 10 million, the United Nations projects that by 2030 there will be 43 so-called megacities worldwide. Even if urbanization is progressing more slowly in Germany in comparison, it is progressing. According to Statista, about 77 percent of Germany’s total population currently lives in cities. By 2050 it should be about 84 percent.
From the early 1930s, MINI will only bring electric vehicles to the market
For the cities of the future to be worth living in, the people there must be able to move quickly from A to B, but above all be emissions-free. It is already clear in this context that electric mobility is the key to climate-friendly mobility. Operating electric vehicles with renewable electricity generates less carbon dioxide2 It thus makes cities more sustainable and worth living in. The all-electric MINI Cooper SE already shows how we will be able to drive in the city of the future.
“So far, every third MINI sold in Germany has a plug-charger and every five are all-electric,” says Ulrike von Mirbach, President of MINI Germany. The future path is also set: starting in the early 2030s, MINI will offer only fully electric cars.
The cars that make city air better
The topic of e-mobility illustrates how the trajectory of urban life of tomorrow is being determined today. Demand for e-cars is currently doubling every year, and by 2031 two-thirds of all new cars sold in Germany will be electric vehicles, management consultancy Ernst & Young predicts. The first cities are already preparing for a world without exhaust and with much better air. In Berlin, zero-emissions zones are expected by 2030, where combustion engines are a taboo – an electric city car makes especially sense.
But what if a futuristic city car not only takes up little space and drives electric like a MINI, but can also improve air quality? The American startup Metalmark is working on the necessary technology: it has developed a substance that attracts pollutants from the air and thus makes them harmless. It is powered by URBAN-X, MINI’s startup accelerator headquartered in Brooklyn. This type of startup incubator helps founders develop sustainable technologies. Under the motto “Reimagining City Life”, city life will be redesigned with creative solutions.
When technology takes nature as a model
Sissy Liu, founder of Metalmark, is also among the funded pioneers. The catalyst you created could be incorporated into car paint in the future. “Then he will actively clean the environment, like a plant,” says Liu. It is inspired by nature: the surface of the catalyst is made of small honeycombs, like those on the surface of a butterfly’s wings.
Not only bad air, but also traffic jams may soon become a thing of the past – just because there are fewer passengers on the road. The Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW) estimates that “where only 20 percent of the work was previously done at home, it could be 40 or 60 percent in the future”. Working from home has also become a part of daily life for many due to the Corona pandemic and will remain difficult to imagine in the future. A complete return to the office may be a step backwards in terms of climate technology: eliminating commutes and business trips reduces emissions.
This development will have an impact on office buildings, in the places where we will operate from. Corporate towers are shrinking due to the need for fewer offices. Instead, companies rely on smaller headquarters with plenty of space to communicate and think. In the future, we’ll primarily go to the office for this, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO) predicted in their “Office 2030” report. They also see an era of ‘new work’ coming, where employees can freely choose when to work and, above all, where they want to work.
MINI Vision Urbanaut introduces a new concept of spaciousness
Maybe even in the car? MINI has already designed a vision for the future. It’s called the MINI Vision Urbanaut and it shifts as needed: if you activate the “Chill” mode, the steering wheel and pedals disappear and you can return to a swivel armchair and make video calls via the built-in screens. “This turns the car into a sanctuary where you can focus on your work while driving,” says Oliver Helmer, Head of MINI Design. Urbanaut combines all of these functions into the smallest of spaces. MINI has developed a spatial concept here. Because: It can be a private sanctuary, but it’s also a mobile workplace.
Concepts of urban mobility will have to be rethought in the future. The means of transport must be connected and connected to the network. Only in this way can traffic flow more smoothly and sustainably and improve people’s quality of life in cities. So-called sharing models, in which people share a means of transportation, are already spreading. Management consulting firm McKinsey estimates that up to 45 percent of all city kilometers traveled will be covered by self-driving taxis and shuttle buses in 2030. The start-up circuit, also powered by the URBAN-X startup accelerator, is working on a vehicle for the sharing world. This: They operate electric shuttles that can be called via the app and — thanks to corporate sponsorship — in some cases even pick up passengers for free. Six-seater taxi buses are already on the road in Huntington Beach, a beach area in Los Angeles.
urban agriculture of the future
The streets in the city will also become empty in the future because there are fewer trucks and delivery vans on the road. McKinsey has determined that 20 percent of the city’s kilometers traveled is still used for freight. This share will decrease, among other things, because more goods grow locally in cities. Urban agriculture shortens transportation routes and can help provide everyone with access to fresh food.
Vegetables, for example: In the future, many city dwellers will have a growing cupboard in their kitchen for growing lettuce and cucumbers. American startup Farmshelf is already offering it. Eight heads of lettuce and eight bunches of kitchen herbs can be harvested each week. The seeds come by mail, and the machine doses the water and LED light independently. Since everything happens in a closed room, you will not need any chemicals against pests.
The city of the future is sustainable
But most importantly: heads of lettuce do not have to be transported from the field to the supermarket. “Now we can bring the field home,” says Farmshelf founder Andrew Shearer. His company has just delivered its first growing vaults to private clients. In this way, Farmshelf helps reduce freight traffic and make the city of the future more livable.
“The Sooner Now” also pursues this goal. Through this platform, MINI provides impetus to explore the future life in the city. It’s about more than just market research. “We want to contribute to shaping the changes,” confirms Susan Eber, director of marketing. The discussions in “The Sooner Now” clearly show the huge trend that will have the biggest impact on cities: sustainability.
* Official fuel consumption figures, carbon monoxide2– Emissions, power consumption and electric range are determined according to the specified measurement method which corresponds to VO (EU) 715/2007 in the version currently in force. Specifications at NEDC take into account differences in wheel and tire size selected in ranges, in WLTP all special equipment. To estimate other vehicle-related taxes and fees that (also) affect CO2Turn off emissions and, if necessary, use WLTP values for vehicle benefit purposes. The listed NEDC values were determined based on the new WLTP measurement method and computed back to the NEDC measurement method for comparison. For vehicles whose type has been tested since January 1, 2021, only official information is available according to the WLTP. More information on NEDC and WLTP measurement methods can be found at www.mini.de/wltp as well as a comparison table on fuel consumption, CO2Emissions and power consumption for all current MINI models at www.mini.de/de_DE/home/footer/wltp.html.
More information on official fuel consumption and CO2– Emissions from new passenger cars can be obtained from the “Fuel Consumption Guide, CO2– The emissions and energy consumption of the new passenger cars, which are available at all outlets of Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH (DAT), Hellmuth-Hirth-Str. 1, 73760 Ostfildern-Scharnhausen, available free at https://www.dat.de/co2/.