How often do experts actually ask regular people who actually live in cities what they envision for the future?
That’s what the Participatory Cities project from the BMW Guggenheim Urban Lab was all about. From 2011 to 2013, teams of four facilitators constructed mobile labs–temporary buildings in vacant and unused urban spaces—in New York City, Berlin, and Mumbai. Over a period of about a few months each, the public came to a wide-ranging series of events that prompted a pretty vital discussion of the trends affecting their urban lives. Part urban think tank, part community center, and part public gathering space, the spaces had about 100,000 visitors in total.
One of my favorites that emerged from the process:
The amount of honking on the congested, twisting roads of Mumbai is enough to run drivers up a wall. Noise pollution is such a problem than in 2008, Mumbai taxi drivers took an oath not to honk–an oath everyone promptly ignored. In December 2012, celebrity cricket player Sachin Tendulkar visited the Mumbai lab and proposed an awesome-sounding rule: That each vehicle would be allotted only 10,000 honks by the manufacturer. Then people would have to at least think before honking. If they needed more honks, they would have to buy them–funding noise reduction projects in the city.