Dezeen Magazine

BMW Guggenheim Lab by Atelier Bow-Wow

BMW Guggenheim Lab by Atelier Bow-Wow

The first-ever building to have a carbon fibre structure is a mobile studio-cum-stage by Japanese architects Atelier Bow-Wow, which just opened in New York.

BMW Guggenheim Lab by Atelier Bow-Wow

The BMW Guggenheim Lab comprises a black mesh-clad box, elevated by the lightweight framework that makes it easily transportable.

BMW Guggenheim Lab by Atelier Bow-Wow

Nestled between two existing buildings, the structure shelters a courtyard studio that is open to the street at both ends.

BMW Guggenheim Lab by Atelier Bow-Wow

A rigging of lighting, screens, audio equipment and other tools is suspended behind the mesh and can be lowered into the studio for different activities.

BMW Guggenheim Lab by Atelier Bow-Wow

A timber hut provides a cafe for visitors where picnic benches are sheltered beneath a fabric canopy.

BMW Guggenheim Lab by Atelier Bow-Wow

The lab is hosting a series of programs around the theme of comfort in the city, including talks, exhibitions, discussions, screenings, workshops and games.

BMW Guggenheim Lab by Atelier Bow-Wow

As part of a six-year tour of mobile studios, the lab will later be relocated to Berlin and Mumbai, before being replaced by a new structure and theme.

BMW Guggenheim Lab by Atelier Bow-Wow

The project was commissioned by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and is sponsored by automotive company BMW.

BMW Guggenheim Lab by Atelier Bow-Wow

Two other projects by Atelier Bow-Wow from the Dezeen archive include a townhouse renovation and a gallery of stacked concrete boxes - see both projects here.

BMW Guggenheim Lab by Atelier Bow-Wow

Photography is by Paul Warchol.

Here are some more details from the BMW Guggenheim Lab:

BMW Guggenheim Lab Opens Aug 3 in New York, Launching Six-Year Worldwide Tour

Berlin and Mumbai are Next Stops in Nine-City Global Initiative

New York, NY, August 2, 2011 – The BMW Guggenheim Lab launches its nine-city worldwide tour tomorrow in Manhattan’s East Village. A combination of think tank, public forum, and community center, the BMW Guggenheim Lab will offer free programs that explore the challenges of today’s cities within a mobile structure that was designed to house this urban experiment. Over the next six years, the BMW Guggenheim Lab will go through three successive cycles, each with its own theme and specially designed mobile structure. Each structure will travel to three different locations, building on-site and online communities around the BMW Guggenheim Lab that raise awareness of important issues, generate ideas specific to each urban situation, and engage with innovative and sustainable designs, yielding lasting benefits for cities around the world. At the conclusion of the first cycle, in 2013, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York will present a special exhibition of the findings of the BMW Guggenheim Lab’s inaugural three-city tour—to New York, Berlin, and Mumbai. The itineraries of the subsequent two-year cycles will be announced at a later date.

BMW Guggenheim Lab by Atelier Bow-Wow

The inaugural BMW Guggenheim Lab is located at First Park, Houston at 2nd Avenue, a New York City Parks property, and is open free of charge Wednesdays to Sundays, from August 3 through October 16. A diverse range of more than 100 programs will address the theme for the BMW Guggenheim Lab’s first cycle, Confronting Comfort, exploring how urban environments can be made more responsive to people’s needs, how a balance can be found between notions of individual versus collective comfort, and how the urgent need for environmental and social responsibility can be met. Programs include Urbanology, a large-scale interactive group game that can be played both on-site and online, as well as workshops, experiments, discussions, screenings, and off-site tours.

The BMW Guggenheim Lab website and blog at offer a global audience a variety of ways to participate in this multidisciplinary urban project. Activities at the BMW Guggenheim Lab will be reported on through the blog, which will also feature posts by notable guest writers and regular interviews with the BMW Guggenheim Lab’s collaborators. Members of the public are invited to join the BMW Guggenheim Lab’s dedicated social communities on Twitter (@BMWGuggLab, use hashtag #BGLab), Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and foursquare.

“New York City has long been an urban laboratory for new ideas and innovative enterprises, so we are pleased to host the inaugural BMW Guggenheim Lab experiment,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “This creative project provides an important opportunity for New Yorkers to connect and share ideas, and we look forward to the conversations that will take place when the Lab travels around the world.”

BMW Guggenheim Lab by Atelier Bow-Wow

“Tomorrow’s launch of the BMW Guggenheim Lab in New York City is just the beginning of what we expect to be an incredible journey,” stated Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. “The Guggenheim is taking its commitment to education, scholarship, and design innovation one step further. We’re taking it on the road. From New York to Berlin to Mumbai and beyond, we will address the enormously important issues our major cities are facing today and engage others along the way. We sincerely thank BMW for collaborating with us on this worthy endeavor.”

“As a company, we like to take action,” said Harald Krüger, Member of the Board of Management BMW AG. “We are interested in fostering an open dialogue about the challenges ahead for all of us. The world premiere of the global, six-year BMW Guggenheim Lab initiative is a true milestone for BMW, building upon our experience in both sustainability and cultural engagement. We are thrilled to support a multidisciplinary platform for forward-looking ideas and new solutions for megacities. With a great collaborator like the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, we are confident the BMW Guggenheim Lab will thrive.”

BMW Guggenheim Lab by Atelier Bow-Wow

BMW Guggenheim Lab Programming in New York

The BMW Guggenheim Lab addresses issues of contemporary urban life through free programs designed to spark curiosity and interaction, encouraging visitors to participate in the BMW Guggenheim Lab’s research by generating questions, answers, ideas, and dialogue.

A central component of the BMW Guggenheim Lab’s programming in New York is Urbanology, a large group game that can be played on-site, in an interactive installation, as well as online at Participants role-play scenarios for city transformation and become advocates for education, housing, health care, sustainability, infrastructure, and mobility as they build a city that matches their specific needs and values. The game experience for Urbanology was developed by Local Projects, and the physical design was created by ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles].

Leading architects, academics, innovators, and entrepreneurs who will give public talks at the BMW Guggenheim Lab in New York include BMW Guggenheim Lab design architect Yoshiharu Tsukamoto (co-principal of Atelier Bow-Wow); BMW Guggenheim Lab Advisory Committee members Elizabeth Diller (founding principal of Diller Scofidio + Renfro), Nicholas Humphrey (emeritus professor of psychology at the London School of Economics), and Juliet Schor (professor of sociology at Boston College); Saskia Sassen (Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University); and Gabrielle Hamilton (chef and owner of the restaurant Prune).

An ongoing series of off-site experiments will allow participants to use special equipment to measure the effect that different areas of the city have on the brain and body. Another series, organized by spurse, a creative consulting and design collaborative, will explore the complexities of comfort through a multiweek series of on- and off-site programs with public participation.

Screenings will take place at the BMW Guggenheim Lab on Wednesdays and Sundays. The first two screenings will feature Blank City by Celine Danhier (2011, USA/France, 94 min.) on August 3; and Last Address by Ira Sachs (2010, USA, 9 min.) and Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell by Matt Wolf (2008, USA, 71 min.) on August 7.

BMW Guggenheim Lab by Atelier Bow-Wow

Architecture and Graphic Design

The mobile structure for the first cycle of the BMW Guggenheim Lab has been designed by the Tokyo-based Atelier Bow-Wow as a lightweight and compact “traveling toolbox.” The 2,200-square-foot structure can easily fit into dense neighborhoods and be transported from city to city. In New York, the two-story structure is nestled between two buildings on a three-quarter-acre T-shaped site; at its southern end, it opens out onto an inviting landscaped public space and cafe.

The lower half of the BMW Guggenheim Lab structure is an open space that can be configured to meet the particular needs of the various programs, shifting from a formal lecture setting with a stage to the scene for a celebratory gathering or a workshop. The upper, “toolbox” portion of the structure is loosely wrapped in two layers of semitransparent mesh, which creates a shimmering moiré effect and allows visitors to catch glimpses of the extensive apparatus of “tools” that can be raised or lowered on a rigging system to configure the lower space for the different programs. Remarkably, the BMW Guggenheim Lab is the first building designed with a structural framework composed of carbon fiber. Videos and images of the structure and the construction process can be viewed at and

“Rather than architects educating the public on how to behave within spaces, it is the public who should have the autonomy of spatial practice in their cities,” stated Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima of Atelier Bow-Wow. “We have always been advocates of people regaining ownership in order to shape the city around them, and are very pleased to participate in the launch of the BMW Guggenheim Lab. We always conceived the Lab as a public space without enclosure.”

The inaugural BMW Guggenheim Lab will leave behind permanent improvements to the once-vacant East Village lot on which it sits, including the stabilization and paving of the site, replacement of sidewalks, and new wrought-iron fencing and gates.

The graphic identity of the BMW Guggenheim Lab has been developed by Seoul-based graphic designers Sulki & Min.

BMW Guggenheim Lab by Atelier Bow-Wow

BMW Guggenheim Lab Team

The BMW Guggenheim Lab is organized by David van der Leer, Assistant Curator, Architecture and Urban Studies, and Maria Nicanor, Assistant Curator, Architecture, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Selected by an international Advisory Committee composed of experts from various disciplines, the members of the New York Lab Team are: Omar Freilla, a Bronx, New York–based environmental justice activist, cooperative developer, and founder and coordinator of Green Worker Cooperatives; Charles Montgomery, Canadian journalist and urban experimentalist, who investigates the link between urban design and well-being; Olatunbosun Obayomi, Nigerian microbiologist and inventor and 2010 TEDGlobal Fellow; and architects and urbanists Elma van Boxel and Kristian Koreman of the Rotterdam-based architecture studio ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles].

Public Information and Amenities

The BMW Guggenheim Lab and all programs are free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis during operating hours. Advance registration for selected programs will be available online. Hours of operation are 1 to 9 pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 1 to 10 pm on Fridays, and 10 am to 10 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The 42-seat BMW Guggenheim Lab cafe, operated by the Brooklyn-based restaurant Roberta’s, is open 1 to 9 pm on Wednesdays to Fridays and 10 am to 9 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Future Venues

Following the New York presentation, the BMW Guggenheim Lab will move on to Berlin in the spring of 2012, where it will be presented in collaboration with the ANCB Metropolitan Laboratory in Pfefferberg, a former industrial complex. In winter 2012–13, the first three-city cycle will be completed when the BMW Guggenheim Lab travels to Mumbai. The Mumbai presentation will be organized in collaboration with the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum.

Dezeen Screen: BMW Guggenheim Lab by Atelier Bow-Wow