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Participatory City: 100 urban trends from the BMW Guggenheim Lab opens at the Guggenheim Museum
Installation view: Participatory City: 100 Urban Trends from the BMW Guggenheim Lab, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 11, 2013–January 5, 2014. Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.
NEW YORK, NY.- Participatory City: 100 Urban Trends from the BMW Guggenheim Lab , an exhibition summing up the experiences and concepts generated during the two-year run of the BMW Guggenheim Lab, is being presented from October 11, 2013 to January 5, 2014, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The exhibition is the culmination of the Lab—an urban think tank, community center, and public gathering space that traveled to New York, Berlin, and Mumbai to inspire innovative ideas about urban life and new ways of thinking about cities. Tens of thousands of participants engaged with the Lab’s free public programs, urban projects, and research initiatives, both on site and online, which informed and helped shape the exhibition.

“With the BMW Guggenheim Lab, we have extended our mission beyond the walls of the museum, providing the Guggenheim with new ways to engage directly with the public and demonstrate our commitment to innovation in the fields of architecture and urbanism,” said Richard Armstrong, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. “The Lab ignited an important conversation about the differences and commonalities of urban environments and the power of cities as idea-makers. The Participatory City exhibition brings together the ideas found along the way, celebrating this journey and showcasing the extraordinary people and places we encountered.”

The BMW Guggenheim Lab is a co-initiative of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the BMW Group. Participatory City is organized by Maria Nicanor, Curator, BMW Guggenheim Lab, and Associate Curator, Architecture and Urbanism.

Exhibition Overview
Participatory City is inspired by one hundred of the most talked-about ideas in urban thinking explored at the Labs in New York, Berlin, and Mumbai. The terms, or trends, featured in the exhibition have been selected from nearly three hundred terms that were compiled in the New York, Berlin, and Mumbai editions of 100 Urban Trends: A Glossary of Ideas from the BMW Guggenheim Lab. New and old, established and of-the-moment, these terms relate to the ways we understand, design, and inhabit cities. Each term references a particular Lab event or experience, highlighting participatory programs, tours, talks, workshops, film screenings, and urban research projects offered in each city. Projections of the terms, alongside corresponding drawings, photographs, and short videos, loop continuously on the gallery walls in a digital installation. Additional videos and images from each of the three cities bring the Labs to life throughout the exhibition. A global roster of architects, academics, designers, and artists has also submitted responses to 100 Urban Trends, which can be viewed online, at

Participatory City examines a wide variety of trends that address how we interact with cities, including:

• Participatory Urbanism: a concept integral to the programs in New York, Berlin, and Mumbai, in which citizens are empowered to collect data and contribute ideas to urban decision-makers;

• Ostrich Effect: a topic discussed in Mumbai that describes how individuals convey their indifference to the harsh conditions of everyday street life;

• Collaborative Urban Mapping: an example of a small-scale intervention in an urban environment, which was produced through collaboration and open-source data in Berlin to map elements of the food supply chain;

• Suburban Sprawl: representing outward urban growth;

• and the concept of Happy City and psychological well-being in urban environments.

Other trends include the 3-D Printer revolution that has led to increased Customization; Arduino, hardware developed for operating robots; and urban concepts such as 10,000 Honks, Bottom-Up Urban Engagement, Collective Memory, The New Architect, Eviction, Food Distribution, Gentrification, Infrastructure of Waste and Non-Iconic Architecture, among others.

“Cities are concentrations of buildings, streets, transportation systems, and physical infrastructure, but it is people who are at the center of urban discourse and it is people who, through participation and interaction, continue to make cities vibrant centers for the generation of ideas that shape our world,” said Nicanor. “It is this sense of participation that continues to empower urban progress one idea at a time. Participatory City documents the BMW Guggenheim Lab’s journey to identify some of the most urgent challenges for cities today and the ideas that could help improve them.”

The exhibition also features prototypes of the Water Bench, a project developed during the Mumbai Lab by Lab Team member and architect Neville Mars. Created to address water scarcity and the need for leisure space in Mumbai, the Water Bench collects rainfall for re-use in irrigation and provides public seating. A prototype of the Water Bench is planned for First Park in New York, the site of the New York Lab, and six more are currently installed throughout Mumbai.

“With the New York exhibition, the BMW Guggenheim Lab adventure comes full circle. During its travels, the Lab connected people from around the world to address the challenges that so many megacities face today and in the future. Each and every one of these people who actively participated in this project, be it online or on site, are the reason for the Lab’s success,” said Maximilian Schöberl, Senior Vice President, Corporate and Governmental Affairs, BMW Group. “The exhibition allows us the opportunity to reflect on the Lab as a whole to better understand how this thinking will continue to inform urban life.”

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