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"Shareway" presents a vision of transport infrastructure in 2030


January 21, 2013

‘Shareway’ is a concept that connects public and individual transport to a single artery (Image: Höweler+Yoon Architecture)

‘Shareway’ is a concept that connects public and individual transport to a single artery (Image: Höweler+Yoon Architecture)

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American-based architectural studio Höweler + Yoon Architecture has developed an intriguing concept for modern urban infrastructure between Boston and Washington called "Boswash." Central to the design of this imagined mega-region is the firm's "Shareway" design – a bundled transport concept that seeks to redress the nightmare of the urban commute by connecting public and individual transport to a single artery along the 450 mile (724 km) route of the existing Interstate 95.

The concept landed Höweler + Yoon the 2012 Audi Urban Future Award which aims to understand the cities of the future, and answer the question ‘in which form will individual mobility be possible?’ through the study of city development, global urban planning and their relevance for future mobility. The submission was selected for it’s potential to be realized within the 2030 timeframe and as the most thoroughly resolved response to the brief.

The term "Boswash" was originally coined by Herman Kahn and Arthur J. Weiner in their 1967 study The Year 2000 which described a theoretical U.S. megalopolis extending from metropolitan Boston to Washington. Film buffs may also recognize this region as the original "Mega-City One" from Judge Dredd.

Höweler + Yoon describe Boswash as encompassing 53 million residents living within the region that contributes a third of the U.S. GDP. The existing individual suburbs and urban centers along the I-95 are amalgamated into Boswash as the traditional notions of independent districts disappear. Höweler + Yoon see this as an opportunity to create "alternate paths, different trajectories or new cultural dreams".

As the U.S. suffers from what the project describes as middle-aged under funded infrastructure, the vision of a smooth commute and large cars from a utopian suburbia has become a nightmare. The commute and infrastructure has become long and overloaded and the post war promise of free-flowing mobility has disappeared from major urban centers.

The Shareway focuses on community access and seeks to bundle transport into a highly technical, optimized and continually flowing main artery. The aim is to create a new platform which "superbundles" both individual and public transport through the creation of a single multi-modal high-speed network of hubs and pathways. In this infrastructure, people and cargo in varying forms of transport move along the same stacked highway route at different levels "like data through the internet."

At the core of the transport network is a high-speed rail track on the top level with hubs or interchange points that switch passengers and cargo between local and national routes. The levels below include freight and commuter rail lines, shipping truck and public roads and finally bike and pedestrian pathways. Each node also provides a "last mile" system that provides a local radius of accessibility through short range independent public cars. Passengers can leave their high-speed rail journey close to their destination and utilize a fleet of cars powered by kinetic energy harnessed from the braking trains.

Travelers can also use the intelligent UI of the Shareway to search for optimal routes or even people they can car share with.

The Shareway is proposed as a social space that not only provides optimal route planning and carbon footprint reduction, but also promotes group activities for users to participate in and move away from uni-modal and anonymous travel, and subsequently decreases the requirement for private transport ownership. Höweler + Yoon describe this phenomenon as changing the American dream of "freedom and ownership" to "freedom from ownership."

Beyond the core Boswash rail and road network, the concept also addresses the need for a "Superhub." It's estimated that, on average, 611 short haul flights are taken within the region daily. To efficiently reduce the air traffic and scale the existing infrastructure to cater for super-size planes and cargo ships, the Shareway will link the high-speed transport network to this Superhub, which provides an appropriate sized air and ship port. Höweler + Yoon use the example of Newark as the location of a Superhub within this region.

Economic inconsistencies noted through the Boswash region are also taken into account. Focusing on Balitmore, the project suggests a regeneration of de-industrialized zones into community food production "Farmshare" centers, with circular fields located next to the Shareway to enable speedy transfer of produce into the bundle. Suburban homes are also updated in a communal fashion through a proposed "Sharestay" scheme which provides timeshare based residences along the network accessed through the UI. In addition, a "Parahouse" will be placed within the suburban landscape to provide a communal home designed to allow travelers to view and connect with suburbia. The project aims to make all disparate communities within Boswash feel like neighbors through a model that shifts the ideal from "ownership" to "membership," similar to a car share system.

Finally, and perhaps most ambitiously, the proposal seeks to reclaim the road surface and ease congestion within major cities through use of a "Tri-panel" system. Cities like New York will replace their roads with a variable smart surface, which operates like a revolving billboard, rotating and changing in order to sustain multiple uses. The three panels imagined are a road surface, grassland and solar panels, which aim to create a variable city-scape that is self regulating. Beneath this is an expansion of what we see today: layers of urban utilities such as water pipes, subways and stations stretching underground.

"Shareway is a mobility platform and operating system that restructures the relationships between property and access, allowing users to move along efficient mobility networks while remaining free of car and home ownership," according to Höweler + Yoon. "Through a combination of physical infrastructure (hardware) and intelligent networks (software), Shareway makes travel effortless and reconfigures the structure of cities and suburbs. Proximity is a function of time and location. Geography is negotiated by speed. Distance is displaced by access. Convenience is remapped through new forms of conveyance."

Höweler+Yoon Architecture was one of five architectural offices recognized by Audi for its vision of future urban mobility. Other participating firms were Superpool (Istanbul), CRIT (Mumbai), Node Architecture & Urbanism (Pearl River Delta), and Urban-Think Tank (São Paulo).

The videos below by Höweler+Yoon Architecture describe further details of the project submission and its vision for Boswash.

Source: Höweler+Yoon Architecture, Audi Urban Future Initiative

About the Author
Donna Taylor After years of working in software delivery, Donna seized the opportunity to head back to university and this time study a lifelong passion: Architecture. Originally from the U.K. and after living in many countries, Donna and her family are now settled in Western Australia. When not writing Donna can be found at the University of Western Australia's Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts Department. All articles by Donna Taylor

Aside from the stupid vehicle designs, and destruction of American culture one serious train derailment blocks rail and highway transport routes.


why is it that when someone if thinking up designs for the future, the first thing they do is throw practicality out the window?

Artisteroi Rlsh Gadgeteer

hit the brakes on those unicycles and watch them roll! LOL - not practical.

Pretty cool though. . . but you'd never get me on one!


Please explain yourself why ideas are stupid! The first thing, it's a design idea to infuse feedback and collaboration. Furthermore, come up with better ideas and/or elaborate.


Basically zeitgeist stuff. Socialism by some other name. No attempt at retrofitting into existing design. No attempt at defining the question of transitional overlap. How do you take even an umbrella or brief case on some of those designs? And above all no attempt to explain how its to be paid for or how funds are to be raised. The car and the house on the quarter acre block grew from four things. The need for privacy, flexibility, immediacy, and weather resistance. In cars that means the need to be able to carry a bulk of items easily and provisionally. Getting home from the beach with the kids, their friends and a 1/4 ton of sand covered stuff. Impossible with most public systems. Keeping a rain coat handy in the car also matters. Getting from the secure office car garage to a comfortable garage at home without braving muggers in New York, broken pavement in Detroit, blizzards in Canada, rain in Seattle, or heat stroke in Arizona. The home is privacy: Time share rarely works with homes. Noise, competing scheduled, demand peaks, all work against it. Often it does not work with cars and holidays if there is no provision for overlap, private storage of personal belongings that get left behind. Generally it only works for those with a lot of money and no accumulated assets. Modern urban nomads and tramps. The few people that can genuinely live out of a suit case and can afford to discard everything that they cant carry. Some one asked for an alternative so here's a sketch. A network of private robot cars provide personal secure transport for their owners. In each car is a secure locker and double glove box. Public items are secured in the public glove box. Instead of parking it the owner stows private items and then sends the car off as a short hall robot taxi. Cell phones call it and it travels back towards the owner as required. The car is a gas (LNG) electric hybrid with induction charging via magnetic driven rotors. On long hall it platoons.

Wesley Bruce

OMG... did someone just bemoan the destruction of American Culture ? Unfortunately it is a dumb idea, far to grandiose... www.taxi2000.com...Ed Anderson offered Madison, WI an @ 8 mile track from Middleton,WI to the Madison State Capitol for 1 million $$$'s in 1983. Half his estimated cost back then... Madison, WI said no thank you ED... we like our 5.5 million $$$'s in parking ticket revenue far to much... and of course our 200 domiciled and 3000 Insurance Companies doing BUSINESS HERE... Hate your guts Ed. And every time I bring the idea of a taxi2000 line from Chicago to Milwaukee to Madison to the Twin Cities and back to Chicago in a loop down the I 90 Corridor up ??? It's 1983 all over again.


I cannot for the life of me contemplate getting my wheelchair into that unicycle... but of course I may be missing something-- such as a many mile long moving treadmill; so when I instantly fall on my side trying to get on the unicycle - the moving treadmill can transport me on my side (the whole time mumbling 'did someone get the license number of that truck???') :-D

Chris Jordan

Wow... so many comments that attack and disregard viable/practical ideas instead of asking questions such as: 'what would this do to enhance transportation as we know it' , or... 'how would it benefit our needs'.

As for disabled folks... specialized transport would probably be designed to accommodate them. Look at the present transport system and how people in wheelchairs are severely limited in options and have to rely on others to help them get on board or into subways, trams, buses (all of which usually do not feature easy access to disabled people).

Petar Posavec
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