In search of tomorrow’s mobility: design visionaries in the centre of China’s cultural heritage.
Megacity with traditional roots.
Beijing: megacity and home to a millennia-old culture.
Armed with an unsweetened green tea to go, Andy Wang steps out into the noisy bustle of the old imperial city and decides to take a taxi, as at this time of the day the underground is grossly overcrowded. Besides buses, taxis and cars, numerous cyclists push their way through the busy traffic. Beneath the neon cover of the luxury department stores, every cell of the city still pulses with millennia-old history. Overwhelmed yet again, as ever, by his impressions of Beijing, Wang pays for the ride, thanks the taxi driver and starts searching for the answers to tomorrow’s questions, between high-end and Zen culture. His path takes him to those suspense-packed spaces in the city where the ideas that will move the future come to fruition. There is one place where he can gather and implement them: the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center, Beijing; as a designer he is able to capture the pulsating variety of the city and translate it into creative design concepts.
Acting in the here-and-now while looking ahead.
The Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center in Beijing.
Right here in the centre of the booming city built on the roots of an ancient culture, unsuspected possibilities for design visionaries open up. The importance of the Chinese market is constantly growing, and with it its impact on design trends and mobility solutions. With the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center in Beijing, founded in 2011, the brand is reaffirming its endeavours to create the vehicle design of tomorrow. The international team of designers is interested not only in creating the production models of the next few years, but in recreating mobility for the long-term future. The designers draw on the inspiring clash between rapid growth and millennia-old culture. At the same time, there is consequently a need to think ahead: as a result of steady growth, the roads are clogged and there are not enough parking spaces. Persistent smog hangs over the city. Intelligent and forward-looking mobility design is needed here, and for other big cities too.
Megacity & Mobility
Roadtraffic in megacites booms. The Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center Beijing develops new mobility concepts.
Learning from observation.
The designers’ task is to convert Beijing’s exciting culture into design: “You can experience everyday life, study people’s behaviour and understand their habits,” said Wang about the process of inspiration on the spot. Olivier Boulay, Head Designer of the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center, Beijing, described how the cultural elements, such as the paintwork of traditional Chinese alleys between buildings, called “hutongs”, manifest themselves in drafts: “We were strongly inspired by the paint of the hutongs. From it we developed a high-quality paint with a nice expression for our drawings and design suggestions.”
Science fiction is now.
The designers not only integrate culture into their vehicle design, they also search out current problems of the megacity. Many of these could be addressed intelligently by cooperation between private and public transport, is Boulay’s approach. “The challenge is to get people efficiently from A to B without using lots of vehicles.” The designers’ gaze is, however, directed much further away into areas which may seem like science fiction to mere mortals: the vehicle as a robot which goes shopping on its own or fetches the children from school is not too far away according to Boulay. “Here at the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center we are always in the future – and we create it.”