We’ve restructured our cities as engines of consumption designed to facilitate comfort and excitement. But do big box retailers, smart phones and glossy condos with built-in gyms put us in an unsustainable relationship with the urban environment?
The BMW Guggenheim Lab arrived in New York on Wednesday to initiate a six-year journey of open dialogues between experts and locals on the idea of balancing “modern comfort” with social and ecological sustainability.
The mobile Lab, which launched its nine-city worldwide tour in Manhattan’s East Village, offers a series of free public programs that will explore the challenges of contemporary urban living. The Guggenheim invited various politicians, artists, journalists, professors and activists to participate in the interdisciplinary dialogues intended to educate and engage New Yorkers on this years theme of “Confronting Comfort.”
Through a series of lectures, film-screenings, workshops (there are over 100 events) the lab is designed to explore individual and collective comfort in the city, keeping in mind the environmental and social responsibility residents bear. Maria Nicanor, assistant curator of the Soloman R. Guggenheim Museum, called the mobile laboratory “an urban think tank, a community center, a gathering space.”
After New York, the lab will move to Berlin and then Mumbai before finishing off its first cycle back in New York in 2013.
“The lab is a way for everyday people to contribute, to experiment and learning about the city and then offer solutions to the city,” said Charles Montgomery, a journalist and urbanist from Canada and one of New York’s participating speakers.