The BMW Guggenheim Lab is a mobile laboratory designed by Atelier Bow-Wow to present a programme led by international, interdisciplinary teams in the areas of urbanism, architecture, art, design, science, technology, education, and sustainability. Part urban think tank, part community centre and public gathering space, its goal is the exploration of new ideas, experimentation, and ultimately the creation of forward-thinking solutions for urban life. “We are eager to engage together in a multidisciplinary worldwide dialogue to confront todayʼs issues, from questions of sustainability and architecture to those of engineering and science.” Frank-Peter Arndt, member of the Board of Management, BMW AG.
Over a six-year period three different BMW Guggenheim Lab structures will be designed by a different architect, each travelling to three cities around the globe to address issues of contemporary urban life through programmes and public discourse. The theme of the first two-year cycle of the BMW Guggenheim Lab is Confronting Comfort, an exploration of how urban environments can be made more responsive to peopleʼs needs, how a balance can be found between modern notions of individual versus collective comfort, and the urgent need for environmental and social responsibility. Cycle 1 launched in New York City from August 3 to October 16, 2011, and travels to Berlin and a city in Asia, to be announced later this year. It concludes with an exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2013.
With a structural skeleton built of carbon fibre, the lightweight and compact BMW Guggenheim Lab has been designed by Atelier Bow-Wow as a ‘traveling toolbox.’ The lower half of the c. 2,500-sq.ft. structure, a present-day version of the Mediterranean loggia, will be left open at most times. Its stagelike atmosphere will change often throughout the run of the programme. The upper part of the structure houses a flexible rigging system and is wrapped in a semitransparent mesh. Through this external skin, visitors will be able to catch glimpses of the extensive apparatus of tools that will be lowered or raised from the fully enclosed toolbox canopy according to the programming needs: a formal lecture setting with a stage might become the scene for a celebratory gathering or a workshop with tables for hands-on experiments.
Atelier Bow-Wow was established in Tokyo in 1992 by the husband-and-wife team of Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima. Best known for its idiosyncratic, yet highly usable Micro Public Space residential projects in dense urban environments, they proposed the term ‘pet architecture’ for the multitude of odd, ungainly, but functional little buildings wedged into tiny sites around Tokyo.
The BMW Guggenheim Lab is curated by David van der Leer, Assistant Curator, Architecture and Urban Studies, and Maria Nicanor, Assistant Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The Advisory Committee for the first cycle of the BMW Guggenheim Lab includes Daniel Barenboim (Conductor and Pianist, Argentina), Elizabeth Diller (Designer, USA), Nicholas Humphrey (Theoretical Psychologist, UK), Muchadeyi Ashton Masunda (Mayor of Harare, Zimbabwe), Enrique Peñalosa (Former Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia), Juliet Schor (Economist and Professor of Sociology, USA), Rirkrit Tiravanija (Artist, Thailand), and Wang Shi (Entrepreneur, China).
The New York BGL Team is comprised of Omar Freilla, a Bronx, New York based environmental justice activist, cooperative developer, and founder and coordinator of Green Worker Cooperatives; Canadian journalist and urban experimentalist Charles Montgomery, who investigates the link between urban design and happiness; Nigerian microbiologist and inventor and 2010 TEDGlobal Fellow Olatunbosun Obayomi; and architects and urbanists Elma van Boxel and Kristian Koreman of the Rotterdam-based architecture studio ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles]. Video interviews with each of the BGL Team members can be viewed at youtube.com/bmwguggenheimlab.
BMWʼs Cultural Commitment: In 2011 the BMW Group is celebrating 40 years of international cultural commitment, in which time it has initiated and engaged in more than 100 cultural cooperations worldwide. The company places the main focus of its long-term commitment on modern and contemporary art, jazz and classical music, as well as architecture and design. In 1972 three large-scale paintings were created by the artist Gerhard Richter for the foyer of the BMW Groupʼs Munich headquarters. Since then artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Olafur Eliasson, Thomas Demand, and Jeff Koons have collaborated with BMW. The company has also commissioned architects such as Karl Schwanzer, Zaha Hadid, and Coop Himmelb(l)au to design corporate buildings and plants.
The New York BMW Guggenheim Lab is located at 33 East First Street (between First and Second Avenues). Open Wednesdays and Thursdays, 1 – 9 pm, Fridays, 1 – 10 pm; Saturdays and Sundays, 10 am – 10 pm. 3 August 3 – 16 October 2011.
BMW Guggenheim Lab social media channels, including Twitter (twitter.com/bmwgugglab), Facebook (facebook.com/bmwguggenheimlab), YouTube (youtube.com/bmwguggenheimlab), Flickr (flickr.com/bmwguggenheimlab), and FourSquare (foursquare.com/bmwgugglab).