BMW has joined with the Guggenheim Foundation to collaborate on a public think tank syle project called, somewhat unimaginatively The BMW Guggenheim Lab. The venture aims to research and explore the future of sustainable living.
The initiative is essentially a mobile laboratory cum community centre which will travel to nine major cities worldwide over six years. Within it, international, interdisciplinary teams of skilled professionals and thinkers in the fields of urbanism, architecture, art, design, science, technology, education, and sustainability will address issues of contemporary urban life. This will come in the form of public programmes and discourse. The goal is the exploration of new ideas, experimentation, and ultimately the creation of forward-thinking solutions for urban life.
The Guggenheim Foundation, one of the world’s preeminent institutions for the collection, preservation, and research of modern and contemporary art, and the German premium automotive brand may initially seem odd bedfellows. But the two organisations certainly share a commitment to championing creativity and forward thinking, technical solutions.
The first leg of its journey began in New York on 3 August, from where it will travel to Berlin and then on to Asia. The structure itself will evolve through the journey, but the new York lab is a lightweight carbon fibre skeleton forming an open, loggia-type space designed by Tokyo-based architecture firm Atelier Bow-Wow. Each city experience will have a specific theme and the New York theme revolves around the tension between private and public comfort.
As well as in-person public experiences, the programme’s dedicated website plays a digital role in a combined cyber-physical initiative and parallel hosts installations, discussions and workshops and the initiative is developing its own set of online social communities. There is also a PR engine behind this international initiative.
Other brands have run multi-city pavilion style creative tours – particularly luxury brands in the fashion space. But by linking with the Guggenheim, BMW’s scheme certainly adds a weighty intellectual element to the programme and a powerful name in the field of public exhibitions and events around the world.
Car brands are certainly interested in and investing in exploring the future of urban life and future transport. Urban trends and ecology could lead to a very different living and transport environment in the future and car brands, which notoriously take a long time and a lot of money in developing new models need to have early warning schemes that help them predict and reflect future change.