A metropolis is reinvented

For years the New York design collective “Terreform ONE + Terrefuge” has also developed both radical and technically thought-out concepts for a renewable future for New York City. Because of this, the group has been awarded with the Zumtobel Group Award for Sustainability and Humanity in the Built Environment this year.
Mitchell Joachim, co-founder of Terreform ONE + Terrefuge, positions the design group’s concepts between purely technical solutions and eco-utopian. In reality, many of their approaches appear utopian, though they have a technical and scientific background. Mobility in particular– as well as residential and urban development – is a core topic that the eight-person team addresses again and again. Even during his time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge (USA), Mitchell Joachim developed concepts for new types of cars that turned the typical notion of space-robbing, gas-guzzling, inflexible – in short, unintelligent – automobiles on its head.
If you change the position of a car’s major elements, like steering and the gear box, from the chassis to the wheels – as Joachim thought – then new means of travel for individuals can be developed. In this way, new concepts are formed, for example a foldable car that only takes up one-third of the parking space of a Smart. Other examples include self-steering “Soft Cars” that make dangerous traffic accidents impossible, and cars that can change their direction through a simple 90° turn of all wheels.

As well as cars, other mobility concepts have been dreamt up over the years: jellyfish-like airships that offer individual, foldout seats like a chairlift on the end of its “tentacles”, car lifts integrated on building façades or an intelligent road surface that recognises the passing cars and pedestrians “independently” and assures that all transit without incident.
However, far away from the world of cars is the future concept of “New York 2106”. Here, Terreform ONE + Terrefuge have created an inversion of the current picture of the city: where buildings currently stand, green surfaces for gardens and farming should take their place; where roadsides, dominate, buildings should stand. According to this particular city vision, traffic should travel predominantly underground.

This visually impressive project from the design co-operative is called “Rapid Re(f)use” – a play on words using “reuse” and “refuse”. The main point here being that the New York City creates enough trash every hour to fill the Statue of Liberty, from top to bottom. Terreform ONE + Terrefuge suggest that the trash created (and deposited) in the past should be dug up, compressed and used as building blocks for future architecture. These “Trash Skyscrapers” should then be built, not by hand, but rather by automatic 3D compression robots.
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