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Exterior View of the BMW Guggenheim Lab in Berlin

BMW Guggenheim Lab and GOOD Select Top Ideas from Global Call to Improve Urban Comfort

NEW YORK, NY, September 5, 2012 – In collaboration with GOOD, the BMW Guggenheim Lab today announced the selection of five top ideas from City Forward, a worldwide online call for imaginative and unconventional ways to improve urban comfort. The public was invited to respond to the question, “How would you transform a public space?” and propose changes to a public space of their choosing, considering the community, environment, architecture, landscape, and other factors that might enhance comfort in that space.

BMW Guggenheim Lab curator Maria Nicanor selected the following five ideas from a total of 120 submissions from 21 countries. Each of the five will be featured on the GOOD and BMW Guggenheim Lab websites, social media channels and in the Lab’s e-newsletter beginning today. In addition, the BMW Guggenheim Lab will work with each of the selected designers to further explore their idea.

“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 interested to see what might happen next.”

The five ideas selected are:

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” on trains, buses and other modes of public transportation to foster a culture of friendliness.

Public2 (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 coastal Douglas-fir which 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 currently is on display on Granville Island in Vancouver.

The Pavilion Harp (Wayne Switzer, Brooklyn, NY)
This plan suggests transforming a neglected pavilion in Monsignor McGolrick Park in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood into a large-scale acoustical 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 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). These submissions and more can be viewed at

The City Forward global online call for ideas is an extension of the BMW Guggenheim Lab, which ended its run in Berlin, the second stop of a nine-city tour, on July 29, 2012. Exploring new concepts and designs for city life, the program for the Berlin Lab concentrated on the theme of Confronting Comfort and the importance of “doing and making” to bring about city change. The Berlin Lab explored issues of contemporary urban life, from infrastructure to technology to sustainability, through programs that encouraged visitors to participate and share questions, answers, thoughts, and dialogue.

About the BMW Guggenheim Lab

The BMW Guggenheim Lab is a joint initiative of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the BMW Group. Housed in a mobile structure designed by Tokyo architecture firm Atelier Bow-Wow, the Lab launched in New York in August 2011 and operated in Berlin during the summer of 2012. The Lab will travel next to Mumbai in winter 2012–13. Details about the Mumbai Lab will be announced in the months to come. The BMW Guggenheim Lab is curated by David van der Leer and Maria Nicanor of the Guggenheim Museum. In addition to the City Forward initiative, the BMW Guggenheim Lab website features visitor information and program schedules and rich multimedia content, including programming and behind the-scenes videos and images. Activities at the Lab are reported on the project’s blog, Lab | Log, which also features interviews with BMW Guggenheim Lab contributors. The public is invited to join the BMW Guggenheim Lab’s dedicated social communities on Twitter (@BMWGuggLab and #BGLab), Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Foursquare).

About GOOD

GOOD is a media platform that promotes, connects, and reports on the individuals, businesses, and non-profits "moving the world forward." GOOD produces a website (, and online video content covering a variety of topics, including the environment, education, urban planning, design, food, politics, culture, and health. GOOD was founded in 2006 and is based in Los Angeles, California.


Kate Lydecker, Ruder Finn Arts & Communications Counselors
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September 5, 2012

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