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.