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“Mobility is essential in today’s world,” explains Norbert Ruecker, Head of Next Generation and Commodities Research at Julius Baer. “We need it to commute to work, meet family and friends, and keep our supermarkets stocked with fresh supplies. It is a key determinant of economic growth, the artery system of our society. Today’s mobility, however, is a dead end.” Not only are the transport solutions we currently have running into infrastructural constraints, they are a key source of air pollution, exacerbating global warming and having a dire impact on our health, wellbeing, and the cleanliness and livability of our cities.

Investment in new forms of transport is an important part of moving towards a better future. Indeed, the future of mobility is a corner stone of Julius Baer’s Next Generation research, which works to identify the key megatrends that will shape the world in the decades to come. This is one of the key reasons why Julius Baer has invested in Formula E, the world’s first fully electric racing series. As Marco Parroni, Head Global Sponsoring at Julius Baer said: “Formula E is more than just a motorsport, it is a test laboratory for the development of future technologies in the area of mobility.” The technology we see powering the Formula E cars around the track is now making its way into the cars we see driving on our streets.

How will we live tomorrow?

Following the Zurich EPrix in 2018, Julius Baer decided to build on the momentum of the race to encourage people to consider how their cities might change with an innovative and thought-provoking advertising campaign. Together with Farner Consulting, the joint project team began by asking ‘how will we live tomorrow?’

“We developed a strategic and creative platform predicated on the idea that how we invest today shapes our future”, explains Philipp Skrabal, Partner and Chief Creative Office at Farner. “It’s a creative opportunity I could only dream of: we were able to show concretely how life in our city could change as a result of new technology becoming part of our everyday lives.”

In order to create an informed vision of the future, the joint team worked their way through copious amounts of research on topics ranging from vehicles and technology to architecture and soundscapes – or how life in the city of the future might sound. Advising them were leading academics Professor Kay W Axhausen and Professor Anthony Patt from ETH Zurich, and Norbert Rucker. 

We were able to show concretely how life in our city could change as a result of new technology becoming part of our everyday lives.

Philipp Skrabal

Making the vision a reality

Together they worked on transforming four of Zurich’s most iconic locations – the main train station, Bahnhofstrasse, Urania, and Bellevue – into projections of the future. They introduced suspended railways and autonomous vehicles, both designed to help ease congestion and create more space in city centres; robots and drones help shoppers carry their purchases and take deliveries from A to B; digital traffic signs provide an intuitive connection between human and machine; and green architecture and a large number of trees improve the air quality in the city central.

Skrabal took photographs of the locations and sketched the ideas over the top, overlaying today’s city with a plausible version of its future. Those sketches were then painstakingly brought to life using a technique called “photogrammetry” to map photographic textures directly onto a 3D model of the buildings and spaces around Zurich. This allowed the team to create the entire scene in CGI.

Personal connections

Importantly, the new futuristic elements have been grounded by the presence of familiar sights. The traditional architecture of the city has been enhanced rather than masked by new elements, and the Zurich trams are still blue and white. Keeping these touchpoints was an important part of helping people in Zurich to connect with the future of their city: “We wanted to balance the technical and the emotional,” explains Jonas Brändli, senior consultant at Farner. “The images presented in the campaign are inspired by the latest research on future technologies. The creative challenge was to translate that knowledge into a unique and exciting creative campaign that resonates with people on an emotional level.”

The resulting four scenes blend the latest in research and technology with the familiar feeling of the past and present to create a unique window to the future.