Interior_SocialSeats Bild TU Delft

The City of the Future

From Los Angeles to San Francisco in 35 minutes. Comparable to an aircraft ‒ but instead of in the air, it’s in an airless space. This is the vision of the Hyperloop project. The 570-kilometre-long route in California is intended simply as the prototype for a revolution in mobility: the virtually emission-free transport of people and goods through tubes that connect urban centres. The construction of the capsules that travel through these tubes – so-called ‘pods’ – involves a wide variety of textile fabrics and non-woven materials: a perfect subject for the special Urban Living – City of the Future presentation area at Techtextil and Texprocess.

The Hyperloop project, which was initiated by Elon Musk, is still in the initial planning phases; however, it has already sparked the imagination and innovative drive of engineers all over the world. Research teams at top universities are competing with one another to build the fastest and most efficient pods. They want to prove that the utopian goal of energy-neutral, supersonic travel through partial-vacuum tubes mounted on stilts is achievable. One of the leading institutions responsible for developing the pods – which are constructed in large part from textile fabrics – is the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, which has contributed one of its prototype capsules to the special Urban Living exhibitions at Techtextil and Texprocess.

The Hyperloop is just one of many visions that foresee our urban life in the 21st century in a completely new context. The urbanisation of our world is proceeding steadily: around the globe, more and more people are moving from rural areas into urban spaces. All over the world, major cities are becoming megacities. It is a trend that continues to gain momentum.

In other fields as well – for example, in medical technology – researchers are experimenting with visionary and controversial ideas for our future life in cities. Here, too, textile innovations from the Netherlands play a prominent role. As part of Urban Living, the Next Nature Network is therefore presenting the concept of artificial uteruses: these habitats, constructed out of textile fabrics, could potentially increase survival chances among premature infants.

An additional development that is directly connected with the megatrend of urbanisation is the consistent re-utilisation of waste and recyclable materials. In another exhibit, the Next Nature Network demonstrates how biological-artificially produced foods could be used to meet supply shortages in urban areas: the concrete example here is ice cream made from meat fibres. In collaboration with the Belgian plastic recycling firm Eco-Oh!, the Dutch design collective Envisions displays a selection from its digital database of experimental recycled materials; meanwhile, the platform New Order of Fashion presents clothing for a future, sustainable urban lifestyle.

In a 500 m² setting designed by Dutch architecture firm Refunc, the special Urban Living exhibition, curated by the Stijlinstituut Amsterdam demonstrates ways in which textile innovations are already improving human coexistence in urban settings today. The special exhibition space is supported by Creative #olland, an association of Dutch creative industries. The inspiring exhibition space is flanked by a material gallery presenting thematically linked best practice solutions by trade fair exhibitors and a presentation area for the student competition Textiles Bauen (Textile Construction), which focused on the same theme.

Textile solutions to urban challenges: in an exhibition entitled ‘Urban Living – City of the Future’, Techtextil and Texprocess are showcasing textile innovations and concepts for our future urban lives together in the foyer of Hall 4.2 from 14 to 17 May 2019 in Frankfurt am Main. The exhibit centres especially on the application areas of Buildtech, Mobiltech, Medtech and Clothtech.

Author: Alex Vogt (KERN)

Title image: TU Delft

Lilliffer Seiler

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