PPP, Guggenheim style

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 07, 2012 21:01 hrs

pAs politicians hotly debate the issue of foreign direct investment FDI in retail and its impact on the Indian economy ordinary Indians struggle with the consequences of faster economic growth every day in their rapidly expanding and deteriorating cities Like elsewhere in Asia Indian cities are at once public and private in nature consisting of spaces that overlap uneasily between the elite and the disenfranchised Can the twain be made to meet in mutually beneficial waysppFinding answers to that question is the intention behind a unique set of free public programmes organised by the BMW Guggenheim Lab Grouped under the broad theme of MEWE to highlight the concept of the public-private intersect the Lab curated by the 75-year-old Guggenheim Museum of New York in partnership with the German car-maker will open tomorrow in Mumbai and runs till January 20ppThe physical aspect of the Lab is an L-shaped bamboo structure designed by the trendy Tokyo firm Atelier Bow Wow and Mumbai architect Samir D&rsquoMonte and located near the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum formerly Victoria and Albert Museum Smaller lab programmes will also be offered in five other locations on specific dates Horniman Circle December 13-17 Sambhaji Park December 20-24 Priyadrashini Park December 27-30 Batliboy Compound January 3-7 and Mahim Beach January 10-13ppAll these locations have been chosen for a reason they are typically areas that attract large crowds on a daily basis the Museum for instance is not far from the Byculla zoo the better to enhance the concept of the LabppThe Lab as the website describes it is &ldquoPart urban think tank community center and public gathering space&rdquo Open to the general public it is meant to facilitate a free literally there is no entry fee exchange of ideas on the challenges of urbanisation and their solutions For instance the inaugural discussion on December 9 is &ldquoSplit City Mumbai Time Scarcity Space Scarcity involving participants from Tata Institute of Social Sciences TISS and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbaipp&ldquoThe purpose of the BMW Guggenheim Lab is to explore urban life in the streets and through the eyes of the people who live in cities&rdquo said Richard Armstrong Director of the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum and Foundation He makes the point that the conversations could involve a range of people from urban architects to &ldquosomebody&rsquos grandmother&rdquoppTalking shops will be one aspect of the Lab&rsquos activities The other is a series of projects in collaboration with local organisations on city-wide studies and projects to look at ways to make public spaces more effective and efficient One of the showcase initiatives for instance is called &ldquoRethinking Kala Nagar Traffic Junction&rdquo a competition open to everyone to suggest ways of solving the spectacular daily traffic snarls on the edge of Bandra East Another initiative is the Landlink Design Prototype to turn the soon-to-be defunct 75 km Tansa pipeline into an auto-rickshaw highway and pedestrian connectionppMumbai is the first Asian city and the third city globally to host a Lab after New York and Berlin and probably the biggest in terms of population It is expected to be the starting point for similar initiatives elsewhere in Asia that will focus on cities with populations of over 10 millionppGiven that the New York Lab attracted 55000 people to the site a 25x100 foot space in the East Village over a six-week period and 430000 people online the organisers are hoping to attract comparable numbers in Mumbai More than the numbers though the Lab can consider itself a success even if it manages to start a meaningful public conversation across and between income groups on the enormous challenges before this Maximum Cityp

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