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Uber Elevate by Foster Partners

Foster + Partners unveils Uber Air Skyport for Santa Clara

British architecture firm Foster + Partners has revealed plans to build an Uber Air Skyport in a new neighbourhood in Santa Clara.

Foster + Partners' skyport would part of a new housing and commercial development that the firm is designing for developer Related Companies in Santa Clara – a city in California's technology hub Silicon Valley.

The Santa Clara Uber Air Skyport proposal foreshadows the commercial launch of Uber Air, the app-based flying taxi service that Uber plans to launch in 2023.

Santa Clara Uber Air Skyport to be "integrated hub"

Revealed by Uber Elevate, the company behind Uber Air, and Related Companies, it is designed as a new hub for the city that will accommodate Uber's fleet of electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOL).

"The way we move is constantly evolving," said Foster + Partners head of studio Stefan Behling. "The skyport is an integrated hub that offers people the choice to change from one mode of transport to many others."

Foster + Partners' design aims to create a seamless connection between departing and arriving, and allows for a number of flight operations at the same time. It also includes a flight deck that can charge up to five eVTOL aircrafts at a single time.

Design provides model for future aerial ride-sharing hubs

Renderings of the design show a curvaceous, gridded glass roof covering over the hub, with glass walls and doors creating a seamless transition from inside and out.

Inside, part of the roofline merges down with the ground, creating a funnel-like gridded pillar inside. More private rooms nearby are also enclosed with glass.

Uber Elevate says the conceptual scheme showcases "what aerial ride-sharing hubs could look like in the future in the Bay Area".

Uber Elevate by Foster Partners
Foster + Partners' skyport proposal for Santa Clara is topped with a undulating roof

Images also reveal a minimal departing and arrival area featuring curving dark seats and with low back coffee tables. Floors are also dark and merge with the ground outside.

It is believed the skyport will link with the central highway in the new Santa Clara neighbourhood, which is intended to serves as a "major traffic artery" for both air and car traffic. It also divides a swath of office buildings on one side from housing and commercial structures opposite.

Foster + Partners among number of firms designing skyports

"Urban mobility will change dramatically in the coming years and the challenge will be to find the right solution that can enable the many different types of electric, AI-led, sustainable modes of transport to complement each other, whether they are above, on or in the ground," said Behling.

Since 2016, Uber Elevate has been working with government and industry stakeholders to create the world's first aerial rideshare network. It plans to be an alternative to transporting people across cities via car, and claims air travel costs will be "the same price as an UberX trip of the same distance".

Foster + Partners are among a number of leading architecture firms that have developed conceptual proposals for these "skysports", including Shop Architects and Gensler.

Santa Clara's hub will join other locations that are set to open in Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas in the next few years.

The announcement of the skyport follows news that Uber Elevate is partnering with Related Companies as the developer of the hubs. The collaboration will see Related develop Uber Air Skyports across the US for commercial aerial ridesharing.

Renderings are by Foster + Partners.