Five Ideas

Lab Curator Maria Nicanor Chooses Five Top Ideas to Transform Public Space

This summer, GOOD and the BMW Guggenheim Lab launched a worldwide, online call for ideas, inviting the public to respond to the question, “How would you transform a public space?” Curator Maria Nicanor has now selected five top ideas from the total of one hundred twenty submissions that came in from twenty-one countries.

The selected submissions represent a fascinating cross-section of approaches to shared space in cities around the world. Yen Trinh of Brisbane submitted a proposal to display signs designating “priority seating for people who want conversation” in trains, buses, and other modes of public transportation; Irene Guzman of Santa Monica, California, suggested a reinvention of a public square in wherein systems of suspended strings and movable lights could be rearranged to create shade and light the space; Rumi Samadhan proposed educational interventions for the youth of the impoverished area of Dharavi in Mumbai, including alphabetic tiles in regional dialects cemented on the ground; Rodrigo Caula submitted a project wherein a 205-year-old Coast Douglas-fir that fell in 2011 gained new life as a public bench in Vancouver; and Wayne and Karolina Switzer proposed transforming a park pavilion in Brooklyn into a large-scale stringed instrument that could be plucked or “played” by local artists and community members.

The Lab will offer each of the selected designers an opportunity to create and implement a plan to take their idea even further. “The goal of the BMW Guggenheim Lab is to explore and inspire forward-thinking ideas for urban life,” says Maria. “We are thrilled by the response we received to the City Forward initiative from citizens around the world. The selected ideas were chosen for their originality, resourcefulness, and potential, and we are excited to see how they develop.” The finalists whose work Maria selected have noted the impetus to action the call for ideas represented. “Open forums, such as the ‘Call for Ideas,’ are refreshing reminders that small-scale works, especially with existing infrastructure, can improve the neighborhood at a human scale,” says finalist Wayne Switzer.

Read more about the selected projects and runners-up on our site and at, and check back here on the Lab | Blog in the weeks ahead for more about the five finalists.