The recently opened BMW Guggenheim Lab gives new meaning to pop-up art, as seen in the above video. Reclaiming a rat-and-rubble infested 2,000 square foot East Village lot between Houston and East First Street, the Lab is a social experiment in urban living.
“When people say we’re taking it to the streets, we literally are. Hopefully this will be a petri dish of ideas for the decision makers of tomorrow,” said Richard Armstrong, director of the Guggenheim Foundation.
BMW unveiled the six-year project with the Guggenheim Museum in May, described as a traveling cultural project for cultivating 21st century design and urban living ideas, while including the public with free programs and spaces. Running through October 16 in NYC, more than 100 events are planned centered on the theme “Confronting Comfort” – how to make urban life more livable.
The brainchild of Guggenheim Museum curators David van der Leer and Maria Nicanor, architectural firm Bow-Wow was tasked with transforming the 100 feet long by 22 feet wide space.
“It was a leftover, narrow, T-shaped space, and I quickly realized it was better to use the metaphor of a theater rather than an exhibition space, because theaters are constantly changing, like the lab,” Bow-Wow partner, Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, told the NYT.
That led to a fly system design for the ceiling, tucked behind carbon-fiber mesh for storing bleachers and everything else. “It’s a new hybrid, a place where we can learn from each other. We wanted the Guggenheim Labs to be in the middle of an urban environment where people live, work and hang out,” said van der Leer.
The Lab will travel to nine cities worldwide over the next six years, including Berlin in 2012 and Mumbai. Eventually, three labs will focus on different aspects of urban life, rendered by different architects. In Berlin the installation will be on a factory site, but in NYC, “it’s supposed to feel homey, like an urban living room,” said Nicanor.
"New York City has long been an urban laboratory for new ideas and innovative enterprises… This creative project provides an important opportunity for New Yorkers to connect and share ideas, and we look forward to the conversations that will take place when the Lab travels around the world," said New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
BMW’s clear interest in the future of urban mobility, as evidenced in their BMW i Ventures tech incubator set up in the Big Apple, is a boon for cities worldwide, and an auspicious collaboration between a blue chip car company and a prestigious museum that examines the relationship between social behavior and art.