Experiment launches today: join us in NYC

by Charles Montgomery on

After months of effort by a cast of dozens, The BMW Guggenheim Lab has  opened in NYC. Now that we’ve christened the space with a first-class shindig (observed critically here)the lab team will spend the next three months conducting experiments, playing games, exploring unseen systems, fighting and confronting ideas of comfort in the city. (Urban Omnibus features in-depth interviews with the team members, describing what we’re up to.)

The lab is the brainchild of curators David Van Der Leer and Maria Nicanor, who saw it as a kind of pop-up intervention whose radical openness would be reflected not just in its programs, but in the structure it inhabits: a carbon fibre frame, designed by Atelier Bow Wow, floating above a previously-abandoned lot on Houston Street in the East Village. Upstairs is a theatre-like toolbox. The ground level is a reconfigurable theatre/workshop/lecture/game/community gathering space. There are no walls, other than the graffiti-covered bricks of neighbouring buildings. There is no way to shut out the noise, dust and buzz of the city, which is exactly the point:

The structure, which T he New York Times calls a departure from the Guggenheim’s starchitect trajectory, is a big hit. But we hope that its contents will produce a greater legacy: a whorl of new ideas and innovations to help cities face the big challenges of this century.

I host the space between Sept 28 and Oct 16, and I will be using the lab as a base to investigate the psychology of public space, commuting, and sprawl. I’ve developed an experimentwith psychologist Colin Ellard in which participants will help us map the effects that the urban landscape has on our brains, bodies and behaviour. Other programs will include neuroeconomist Paul Zak, stranger-provocateur Kio Stark, suburban retrofitter June Williamson, resilient city documentarian Greg Greene, the agitators at Streetfilms, and others who are challenging what it means to build and live together well in cities.

It’s  free to participate in all the lab’s programs. Check out the a href=”http://www.bmwguggenheimlab.org/whats-happening/calendar”>calendarhere. Join us.