Work has started in Japan on “Toyota Woven City”, a new smart city “dedicated to the advancement of all aspects of mobility”.

Situated near the base of Mount Fuji, the project will transform the former 175-acre Toyota Higashi-Fuji Plant in the city of Susono to “demonstrate a human-centred approach to community development”.

Designed by Danish architectural practice BIG, the multi-phase project features a flexible network of streets dedicated to various speeds of mobility. One will be designated for self-driving vehicles only, with others for pedestrians and pedestrians with mobility vehicles. Underground routes will enable goods to be delivered without disrupting other road users. The aim is to achieve safer, pedestrian-friendly connectivity.

The city is designed to inform Toyota’s shift from an automobile manufacturer to a mobility company. It is conceived as an “ever-evolving… human-centred… living laboratory” that will “bring new technology to life in a real-world environment across a wide range of areas, such as automated driving, personal mobility, robotics, and artificial intelligence.” The development will also incorporate solar energy, geothermal energy, and hydrogen fuel cell technology and is expected to provide a number of opportunities for businesses and researchers around the world.

Initially, Woven City will be home to around 360 residents, mainly senior citizens, though there are plans to increase the population to 2,000. This will mainly be made up of Toyota employees, according to the developers.