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A Mobile "Lab" for Urban Conversations Debuts in New York City [Video]

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Credit: Paul Warchol, © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

It's just a simple black structure in a long, narrow lot. But then again, simplicity is the point.

The temporary building, known as the BMW Guggenheim Lab, opened August 3 in New York City, taking over a vacant lot to provide a venue for addressing urban challenges with a series of free events, including lectures, workshops and interactive games. The structure is a sort of 3-D blank slate that can be quickly reconfigured by moving furniture or shifting curtains that serve as partitions.

"We tried to make a city loggia space," said Momoyo Kaijima of Tokyo architecture firm Atelier Bow-Wow at a media preview of the lab, referring to the roofed, open-sided gallery. "It's a very simple structure, for people gathering and people to rest."

Guggenheim Foundation director Richard Armstrong said that the project was intended to spur conversations about life in the city. The idea, he said, is to be both a listener and a participant in discussions that shape urbanity. "This lab offers us an unusual opportunity to do that around the world," Armstrong said. The inaugural lab building will travel around the world—after New York City, it moves to Berlin and then Mumbai—and later iterations designed by other architects will visit major cities during the six-year project.

Take a look at the lab, which is open at Houston Street and Second Avenue in New York City until October 16, in the video below.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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