I got the chance to meet up with This Big City contributor Rachel Smith earlier this year, and aside from our wonderful cycle ride along one of London’s Cycle Superhighways during a heat wave, we discussed her upcoming role at BMW Guggenheim Lab. Rachel has contributed numerous articles to This Big City over the last year or so, exploring how bicycle infrastructure can improve cities and lifestyles, and I’m thrilled that she is now going to apply her dynamic yet thoroughly accessible approach in an exciting new project. Congratulations, Rachel! And now this awesome news has gone public, you can read all about the BMW Guggenheim Lab Berlin, the four built environment superstars heading up the project, and the themes that will be tackled at the event right here:
The BMW Guggenheim Lab Berlin, a combination think tank, public forum, and community center, will be located in the Pfefferberg complex in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood. Like the BMW Guggenheim Lab New York, the BMW Guggenheim Lab Berlin will be housed in an innovative mobile structure designed by Tokyo-based architects Atelier Bow-Wow. The Lab is presented in collaboration with ANCB–Metropolitan Laboratory and will offer a range of free programs exploring issues confronting urban life. Programming for the Lab will be created by the newly appointed Berlin Lab Team, together with Guggenheim curator Maria Nicanor.
As in New York, the BMW Guggenheim Lab Berlin will be housed in a compact temporary facility. Approximately 2,200 square feet in size, the structure can easily fit into dense neighborhoods and travel from city to city.
During its six-year run, which will conclude in late 2016, the BMW Guggenheim Lab will travel to nine cities in three successive cycles, each with its own distinct theme and architectural structure, to help raise awareness of important urban challenges and yield sustainable benefits for cities around the world.
Lab Team and Program
The Berlin Lab Team includes: José Gómez-Márquez, program director for the Innovations in International Health Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston; architect and engineer Carlo Ratti, who practices in Italy and directs the SENSEable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston; Berlin-based artist Corinne Rose, who works with photography and video and teaches at the Bern University of the Arts, Switzerland; and Rachel Smith, principal transport planner with AECOM, based in Brisbane, Australia. (For detailed biographies, please go to guggenheim.org/presskits.) The full Lab Team, which was nominated by the BMW Guggenheim Lab’s Advisory Committee, will develop the programming and be present for the run of the Berlin Lab.
The programming of the Berlin Lab will focus on four main topics determined by the Lab Team: Empowerment Technologies (José Gómez-Márquez); Dynamic Connections (Rachel Smith); Urban Micro-Lens (Corinne Rose); and the Senseable (SENSEable) City (Carlo Ratti). All of the programs will relate to the theme of the first three-city cycle, Confronting Comfort, which explores ways of making urban environments more responsive to people?s needs, striking a balance between individual and collective comfort, and promoting environmental and social responsibility. The programs will be designed to directly and proactively engage residents from all parts of Berlin and will address ideas and issues of particular relevance to the city.
“We welcome the new BMW Guggenheim Lab Team, which includes one of our own residents, to Berlin, and we can?t wait to see what they develop for the Lab in late spring. The Berlin Lab Team is currently here, developing program ideas for the site and meeting with a variety of local collaborators with whom they will be working next spring,” said Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit. “As a vibrant and progressive center of culture and creativity, and a laboratory in its own right, Berlin will be an ideal site for this exciting initiative.”
“We never could have imagined the enormous level of interest and enthusiastic exchange of ideas that the BMW Guggenheim Lab and its programming generated in New York City, both on the ground and online,” said Richard Armstrong. “In its 53 days, the New York Lab welcomed more than 54,000 visitors from 60 countries, and 329,000 people from 168 countries visited the Lab?s website (bmwguggenheimlab.org). With the appointment of the Berlin Lab Team, and the range of experience and interests they bring to the project, we are excited to see how this initiative will continue to evolve and further the Guggenheim?s commitment to education, scholarship, and design innovation. We thank the city of Berlin, the home of Deutsche Guggenheim, ANCB, and especially BMW for joining us in this pioneering urban experiment.”
“Goodbye New York, hello Berlin—before Mumbai, we welcome the BMW Guggenheim Lab to Germany?s capital,” said Frank-Peter Arndt, member of the Board of Management, BMW AG. “The highly professional and intensive dialogue, as well as the broad public interest during its sojourn in Manhattan, has exceeded our expectations. The adventure continues. We are very much looking forward to an exciting program in Berlin.”
“The very first version of the Lab in Europe will have a particular focus on the importance of practical doing and making, empowering urban dwellers with tools and ideas to actively engage in city change,” said Maria Nicanor, Assistant Curator, Architecture, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and curator of the Berlin Lab.
“Each of us has very different educational and professional backgrounds that we are eager to share. We are looking forward to making the BMW Guggenheim Lab Berlin a ?lab? of the interdisciplinary, multifaceted approach that will be needed to address tomorrow?s major urban challenges,” said the Berlin Lab Team in a joint statement.
“We at ANCB are pleased to collaborate closely with the BMW Guggenheim Lab Berlin on the programming for this exciting project,” said Hans-Jürgen Commerell and Kristin Feireiss, Directors of ANCB. “The theme of the Lab, Confronting Comfort, probes areas that ANCB has also been deeply engaged with—notions of individual and collective comfort and the urgent need for environmental and social responsibility. We look forward to working with the BMW Guggenheim Lab to deepen dialogue about the issues pressing upon contemporary urban life, supporting new ideas, experimentation, and the creation of forward-thinking solutions for city life, and we are glad to involve our partners and associated networks.”
After Berlin, the BMW Guggenheim Lab will travel to Mumbai in 2012–13.