In an effort to reframe the global debate about what urbanism means today, Volkswagen experts have teamed up with architect and urbanist Rem Koolhaas, and AMO, an internationally acclaimed research and design studio for the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), to collaborate on a project that reveals the radical changes and transformations being made to the world’s countryside. This month marks the public opening of the rotunda exhibition, “Countryside, The Future,” at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
This exhibition is the first step of an advanced e-mobility project developed by Volkswagen experts with Koolhaas and headed by Samir Bantal, a creative director for AMO. Led by Peter Wouda, Director of the Volkswagen Group Innovation Center Europe and Holger Lange, Project Manager at Volkswagen Group Innovation, and supported by Volkswagen Group South Africa, the international team created a study for an electric tractor and related infrastructure, designed to help facilitate small-scale agriculture and increase the productivity of subsistence farmers while also improving power-supply and mobility in sub-Saharan Africa.
“This project was about creating a meaningful and holistic system, which if done right, has the potential to bring people together and support a community. The beauty of the design will be in its simplicity and in the joy of using it,” said Wouda.
Through this exhibition, Volkswagen, Koolhaas and OMA hope to highlight various academic and industry leads who are revolutionizing the concept of ‘the countryside.’ Using current global case studies, “Countryside, The Future” portrays how these advanced systems – some of which include artificial intelligence, automation, digitalization and large-scale territorial management – are altering and transforming landscapes around the world. One such case study is Volkswagen’s initiative for a potential electrical tractor-sharing in Africa.
The suggested e-tractor would not be sold to individuals, but leased by communes and shared amongst villagers and smallholder-farmers, helping to enable individuals who can’t afford to buy their own equipment access to the specialized equipment. The design of the electric tractor ecosystem taps into the extremely high solar radiation present: the tractor comes with a network of solar charging stations and designed to be fully electric.
This project is the first of a broader collaboration between Volkswagen and AMO. The joint initiative further deepens Volkswagen’s commitment to social responsibility and cultural engagement. The next step for the e-tractor project will be setting up relationships between Volkswagen Group South Africa and different African collaborators, universities and stakeholders to share knowledge on the technical system and its implication on local communities.
“Countryside, The Future” exhibition will remain open at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, NY through Summer 2020.