Imagine an emissions-free electric city, in which homes generate more than enough power for their needs and are built to share their excess with neighbours, cars, and the surrounding grid. It sounds like a wonderful fairy tale, but German architect Werner Sobek says it can be accomplished in just five years. The architect, who was recently awarded the prestigious Fritz-Leonhardt Prize, used his award acceptance as a platform to discuss the “electric city”.
Sobek explained that through the cooperation of the housing and automotive industries, his idea could become a reality. “Both of these industries are coming up with pioneering developments that can contribute to freedom from emissions,” he said. He envisioned an entire city working as one cooperative system “whereby two or more houses – and even whole districts and cities – automatically communicate about the energy they are each generating, storing and using, and then cooperate with one another to bring about the optimal coordination of these figures.”
Last year, Sobek designed the B10 House as a model for this kind of collaboration. The house created enough energy for its own needs and to power two electric Smart Cars. There is even electricity left over to share some with the neighbouring Le Corbusier-designed home.
While an entire city made of such houses may seem unrealistic, especially in a five-year timescale, the technology exists to do it now. But grand ideas like Sobek’s can only work if people, governments and industries all work together.
Images via Werner Sobek