City Forward

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In the summer of 2012, GOOD and the BMW Guggenheim Lab launched a worldwide, online call for imaginative and unconventional ways to improve urban comfort. Members of the public were invited to propose changes to a public space of their choice, taking into consideration the community, environment, architecture, landscape, and other elements that would shape the experience.

Curator Maria Nicanor selected the five top ideas listed here from the total of one hundred twenty submissions that came in from twenty-one countries. Each of the five were featured on the GOOD and BMW Guggenheim Lab websites, social media channels, and in the Lab’s e-newsletter. “The goal of the BMW Guggenheim Lab is to explore and inspire forward-thinking ideas for urban life,” said Nicanor. “We are thrilled by the response we received to the City Forward initiative from citizens around the world. The selected ideas were chosen for their originality, resourcefulness, and potential, and we are excited to see how they develop.”

Priority Seating for Conversation
Yen Trinh, Brisbane, Australia

Conversations in public spaces present endless possibilities to build connections, create community, and make life more interesting. This submission suggests displaying signs designating “priority seating for people who want conversation” in trains, buses and other modes of public transportation to foster a culture of friendliness.

Irene Guzman, Santa Monica, CA

This submission proposes developing a public square where the architecture encourages interaction between community members. As people “claim their space,” they could work together to create a comfortable environment by rearranging a system of suspended strings to create shade during the day or using movable lamps to light the space at night.

Education on the Go
Rumi Samadhan, Mumbai, India

This project, intended for the youth of Dharavi, one of the world’s most impoverished areas, aims to make learning a fun part of everyday life for young children. Educational opportunities outside of a traditional classroom setting could include alphabetic tiles cemented on the ground in regional dialects and English, posters inscribed with nursery rhymes, and large coloring boards mounted on walls.

Ingrain Reclaimed Street Furniture Project
Rodrigo Caula, Vancouver, BC

This project reincarnates a 205-year-old Coast Douglas-fir that fell in 2011 as a public bench and leverages its story to galvanize support for the natural environment and respect for precious resources. The bench is currently on display on Granville Island in Vancouver.

The Pavilion Harp
Wayne and Karolina Switzer, Brooklyn, NY

This plan suggests transforming a neglected pavilion located within Monsignor McGolrick Park in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood into a large-scale acoustic instrument for the enjoyment of the public. Wires would be strung throughout the pavilion, creating a monumental stringed instrument that could be plucked or “played” by local artists and community members, and could be heard throughout the park.

Other imaginative submissions included ideas for a new waterfront park made of reused shipping containers (Seattle), play spaces for subway tunnels (Munich), recycled cardboard hammocks for a marketplace (Montreuil, France), a tool kit to improve New York City’s scaffolding structures, and a canal revitalization plan (São Paulo). This sampling of submissions and more can be viewed at

Visit Lab | Log for further coverage of City Forward and the selected projects.

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