BMW Drives Cultural Examination

While vehicle manufacturers—naturally—focus on vehicles, there is another factor that can’t be overlooked, yet is all too often assumed to be the concern of Someone Else: The social environment that the vehicles exist in.

While vehicle manufacturers—naturally—focus on vehicles, there is another factor that can’t be overlooked, yet is all too often assumed to be the concern of Someone Else: The social environment that the vehicles exist in.

BMW is looking at it head on.

Yes, the purveyor of The Ultimate Driving Machine is partnering with one of the Ultimate Cultural Institutions: BMW Guggenheim Lab.

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This is an urban think tank and mobile lab. Its purpose is to “explore issues confronting contemporary cities and provide a public place and online forum for sharing ideas and practical solutions.”

The initial site will be in New York, on the border between the Lower East Side and East Village (33 East First Street). The mobile structure, designed by Atelier Bow-Wow of Tokyo, measures about 2,500-sq. ft. It will be there from August 3 to October 16. Then it will move to Berlin during the spring/summer 2012. The following year it will go to a city in Asia.

The subject of the first cycle is “Confronting Comfort, an exploration of how urban environments can be made more responsive to people’s needs, how a balance can be found between modern notions of individual versus collective comfort, and the urgent need for environmental and social responsibility.”

Given the effect of the automobile on social, cultural, political, and economic issues, it is laudable that BMW is taking on such an innovative initiative.