The Well-Tempered City

Book launch hosted by LSE Cities

In the Well-Tempered City, Jonathan F. P. Rose discussed how the rapidly changing times in which we are living – the mega trends of climate change, biodiversity loss, population growth, inequality, urbanization, globalisation, and financial influence – affect every city in the world.

Today’s cities are technical marvels, reflecting civilization’s enormous scientific strides. Human creativity has produced unimagined power and prosperity, although that prosperity has come at a price: it is poorly distributed, and it is fostering the next great extinction. By the end of the 21st century, 80% of the world’s human population will live in cities. If we are to address these problems, cities must be part of the solution. We must knit these threads—our technical, cognitive and social potential and the generative power of nature—back together, toward a higher purpose for cities.

In a time of increasing volatility, complexity, and uncertainty, drawing on the musical concept of temperament, the well-tempered city will have the physical, social and economic systems that can help it evolve toward a more even temperament, one that balances prosperity and well-being with efficiency and equality in ways that continually restore the city’s social and natural generative capacities. The seeds of these systems are present today in cities around the world. The purpose of this talk was to show how they might come together.

The talk began by describing the mega trends, and then the concept of temperament. Drawing first from the emergence of ancient cities, and then discussing contemporary cities, the talk  then covered five themes to create more adaptive cities: Coherence, Circularity, Resilience, Community and Compassion.


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    Jonathan F.P. Rose

    Jonathan F. P. Rose works with cities and not-for-profits to plan and build green affordable and mixed income housing and cultural, health, and educational centers. Recognized for creating communities that literally heal both residents and neighborhoods, Rose is one of the nation’s leading thinkers on the integration of environmental, social, and economic solutions to the urban issues facing us today. Rose’s work as founder of investment, development, and urban planning firm Jonathan Rose Companies has received awards from The Urban Land Institute, The American Institute of Architects, The American Planning Association, The National Trust for Historic Preservation, and many others. With his wife, Diana Calthorpe Rose, he is cofounder of the Garrison Institute and the creator of its Climate, Mind, and Behavior program.

    Richard Sennett

    Richard Sennett is Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and University Professor of the Humanities at New York University. His research interests include the relationship between urban design and urban society, urban family patterns, the urban welfare system, the history of cities and the changing nature of work. His books include The Craftsman (2008), The Culture of the New Capitalism (Yale, 2006), Respect: The Formation of Character in an Age of Inequality (Penguin, 2003), The Corrosion of Character (1998), Flesh and Stone (1994) and The Fall of Public Man (1977). He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Society of the Arts and the Academia Europea. He is past President of the American Council on Work and the former Director of the New York Institute for the Humanities. Recent honours and awards include The Schocken Prize, 2011; Honorary Doctorate from Cambridge University, 2010; The Spinoza Prize, 2010; The Tessenow Prize, 2009; The Gerda Henkel Prize, 2008; The European Craft Prize, 2008; and The Hegel Prize, 2006.