Over the past two years, the BMW Guggenheim Lab, a mobile urban laboratory centered around the topic of life in cities today, has offered free programs and workshops and implemented urban projects in New York City (August 3–October 16, 2011), Berlin (June 15–July 29, 2012), and Mumbai (December 9–January 20, 2013). Created as a resource, 100 Urban Trends aims to identify the most talked-about trends in urban thinking, as they were discussed in these three venues. Each individual glossary offers 100 contextualized definitions that apply to the way we understand, design, and live in cities.
Integral to 100 Urban Trends is the concept of cities as “idea makers.” In cities, people come together, share their thoughts and common interests, and generate the ideas that shape our world. Dense, growing cities have been and continue to be the catalyst for human progress, powered by daily proximity among their citizens as much as anything else. Despite some of the drawbacks of such massive urban centers, they may well embody the future for human life. Today’s cities are competing to attract more people; greater urban density can mean more conflict, but it can also produce a greater diversity of viewpoints and more opportunity for positive change.
In recent years, there has been an unequivocal shift in the study of cities. Urban thinking, whether related to architecture or urbanism, has become dramatically less focused on infrastructure, and more on the ultimate goal and reason for the existence of cities — that is, the well-being of the people that inhabit them and constitute their very soul and essence. “Cluster,” “concentrate,” and “collaborate” seem to have become the three big Cs of urban thinking of late — but that story is not new. Clustering, searching for a concentration of people, and finding ways to collaborate have been part of the human experience since prehistoric times. Then, as now, people gathered in search of protection, conviviality, and exchange.
The terms presented here reflect this type of urban exchange. They are new and old, classic and ephemerally fashionable. Among them are some of urbanism’s “usual suspects,” which interestingly, keep reappearing in the urban discourse of the early twenty-first century. Each definition concludes with an example of a Lab program that illustrated the relevance and context of that term. Some terms are shared between the three glossaries, as they proved relevant in all of the Lab’s locations.
What do people talk about today when they discuss the future of cities? Many things. Find some of them here—and tell us about the Urban Trends people are talking about now in your city.
100 Urban Trends: A Glossary of Ideas from the BMW Guggenheim Lab was written by Maria Nicanor, Curator, BMW Guggenheim Lab; Amara Antilla and Stephanie Kwai, Curatorial Assistants, BMW Guggenheim Lab; and Christine McLaren, Resident Writer, BMW Guggenheim Lab.
Design: Collective Assembly
© 2013 Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York