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  Chinese Way>Life

Traveling lab takes on challenges of urban life

2013-10-24 09:53:06

(China Daily) By HAN BINGBIN


Through some of the interactive experiences they had online, Nicanor says there's also a huge interest in social components of cities rather than the hardcore infrastructures, meaning people care more about how the infrastructures will affect them.

In this way, a number of the trends reveal the citizens' will to participate in city building, such as Participatory Urbanism, a concept integral to the programs in all three cities, in which citizens are empowered to collect data and contribute ideas to urban decision-makers.

With the idea of "participatory" being carried even further, the project itself sometimes has been more than an ideal art concept but has taken on unexpected practicalities.

In Mumbai, for example, the lab launched a design competition for a problematic traffic intersection, and by inviting local transportation officials to be part of the jury, they successfully had them committed to following up with one of the winning entries.

A more interesting case is the Water Bench in Mumbai, designed by architect Neville Mars to both provide public seating and collect rainfall for re-use in irrigation. A prototype of the Water Bench is planned for First Park in New York, the original site of the lab, and six more are currently installed throughout Mumbai.

"Hopefully the legacy (of this project), in addition to these practical things I was talking about, (is that) if we keep the philosophy that you can change your city, we can create more urban interventions," says Nicanor.

Maximilian Schoberl, senior vice-president of corporate and governmental affairs with BMW Group, says the lab connected people from around the world to address the challenges that so many megacities face today and in the future.

"The exhibition allows us the opportunity to reflect on the lab as a whole to better understand how this thinking will continue to inform urban life."

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