02 August, 2011

2 August - The BMW Guggenheim Lab

A visionary new venue opened its doors today in Manhattan. The BMW Guggenheim Lab is a six-year collaboration between the Guggenheim Museum and the car company BMW. This project will invite a new generation of leaders in architecture, art, science, design, technology, and education to come together to address the challenges that face the cities of tomorrow by examining those that exist in urban life today.

The lab will travel to nine major cities worldwide with three distinct mobile structures and thematic cycles. Each structure will be designed by a different architect and each will travel to three cities around the globe. As described by Carol Vogel of the New York Times, “In each city curators will invite leaders in fields including architecture, art, design, technology, education and science to participate in programs: lectures, workshops, games, performances and film screenings.”

The first Lab, located in the East Village in a formerly abandoned parking lot, was designed by the Tokyo architecture firm Atelier Bow-Wow (pictured above, right). This modular carbon-fiber-mesh structure is designed to literally fold up and move to its next stop (first to Berlin, then to Mumbai) at the end of its ten-week run in New York. The interdisciplinary nature of this project provides an innovative and unconventional venue to engage in critical dialog and explore new ideas, in the words of curator Maria Nicanor it is “only by bringing everyone into the conversation can we achieve more innovative and meaningful answers to the urban challenges of the future.”

Theoretical Physicist and Santa Fe Institute professor Geoffrey West described that "cities have emerged as the source of the biggest challenges the planet has met since humans became social, yet as reservoirs of creativity and ideas, they are also the source of the solution." The BMW Guggenheim Lab is an opportunity to explore solutions within a captivating, intellectual, community-oriented, peripatetic, and mutable new platform. In the words of Reena Jana of Smartplanet.com “what will the public, the Guggenheim, and BMW learn from what promises to be an intriguing adventure in curating and international urban design? Even if the lessons are open-ended, the BMW Guggenheim Lab is likely to be a worthwhile architectural, marketing, and social experiment, one that will no doubt spark ongoing public debates and discussions both inside and outside the movable building itself.”