Learning from the past to plan for a future of adaptive transportation: in Conversation with Stilla Graf

Learning from the past to plan for a future of adaptive transportation: in Conversation with Stilla Graf

Stilla Graf was born in Germany and grew up between Bavaria and South Tyrol. In 2019 she started a collaboration with Systematica as the Regional Representative for Germany and German speaking areas.

Stilla is working in the field of mobility, urban planning and architecture since 2006. She has been studying Architecture and Urban Planning at the Politecnico di Milano where she first met Fabio Casiroli, the founder of Systematica as a Professor at a transportation course. Right away she was fascinated by the interaction between engineering, spatial planning and the socio-economic impact of movement which are still her three core topics of mobility and transportation planning.

Currently she is working on different urban development projects, like for example the Paketposthalle Urban Redvelopment in Munich and the Grasbrook Redevelopment District in Hamburg, both in collaboration with Herzog & de Meuron. Both projects are situated in sensitive urban areas were the interaction of existing and future mobility relations need to be carefully addressed.

Q: What are the main mobility challenges in your area of interest?

SG: Germany is, among the countries of the EU, the biggest emitter of traffic related emissions, those have increased from 164 to 168 million tons of equivalent CO2 from 1990 to 2015. This makes clear that all the good work on sustainability which is made on a small scale, in private housing and in urban mobility planning vanishes compared to the overall picture. We can also see an increase of emissions of the light and heavy weight good vehicles, since 1995 the volume of HVL has increased in Germany by 70%.

On the other hand, younger generations are less interested in driving. In 2018, 20,08% of people in Germany between 18-20 years do not have a driving license. This number has increased by over six points in the last eight years and therefore the car as private transport mode has decreased. For example, in Vienna, Austria, the urban modal share foresees a reduction of 50% of the car usage from 40% in 1993 to 20% in 2025.

Projects like the Ten-T programme with the railway axis Berlin-Munich- Innsbruck-Palermo, is an important high capacity north south rail axis traversing Germany, Austria and Italy. The axis will link up important urban areas and deliver an important increase in transportation capacity. This will allow a modal shift from road to rail. Mobility planning and architecture / spatial planning are strongly related: in the mobility sector we talk about networks, starting as a pedestrian path and connecting then to an urban, national or international transportation network. Therefore, the interaction between small scale and big scale planning is crucial for an overall sustainable mobility development.

Q: What is the importance of mobility advisory in new development / regeneration projects?

SG: As mobility planners we are aware that the next 10-15 years will be extremely interesting regarding new forms of mobility, for example the concept of driverless mobility. In light of this Systematica has released the publication “Driverless: More or less?”, where they focus the impact of the driverless revolution on cities and urban transportation and investigate the extent to which it will alter the science of traffic engineering and transportation planning.

We already can see a glimpse into the future of mobility for example with the BMWi suite at CES 2020, driving gets a complete new meaning since we can be transported while sleeping, working or watching the latest Netflix episode. The concept of distance and travel time will be completely revised since travel time with a driverless car will be useful for various kinds of activities.

Therefore, also spatial relations need to be considered, which generate a as a result certain implication for the built and unbuilt space. Questions like – Will we be still need big parking areas? or Is a car free urban development feasible for any kind of user? – are to be tackled today on ongoing development projects in order to guarantee the wellbeing of future inhabitants an the economic success of the project for the future.

Q: What is the most relevant expertise of Systematica applied in your project?

SG: Systematica has not only a 30-year experience on planning of any kind of mobility environment but puts also a look towards the future through the internal research unit transform transport. Withing this think-tank different research topics around the realm of mobility are explored, building therefore the background for an adequate planning of future urban developments based not only on numbers but on a wide spectrum of spatial and socio- economic factors. Among those factors are safety, visibility, centrality and many more and it takes into account the use of territorial, population and urban mobility data sets to plan and to analyse mobility projects.

We learned from the experience of the past and can plan for the future trends and evaluate mobility patterns towards sustainable transportation. Systematica addresses any kind of transport mode and the balanced and seamless interaction between them, from pedestrian flows for big events to complex buildings to regional rail or motorway networks and validates planning guidelines with advanced traffic engineering tools.