Embrace Complexity

Cities are magnificently complex, and Arun Jain’s interdisciplinary approach to urban design reveals how we can plan and craft our urban settlements without playing God. He urges us to embrace complexity in all its forms with measured confidence and a sense of humility, forming a pragmatic basis for us to strategically intervene in evolving urban and social systems that defy our ability to control them. Urban designers and planners address interrelated issues and opportunities, balancing how we learn, move, communicate, work, and play within the context of evolving man-made and natural systems. With over three decades of global experience, Arun has contemplated and contributed to these kinds of projects, comprising over $14 billion in investment.

Driven by the larger context in which our quality of urban life must improve, Arun’s work has included creating a national policy structure and ecology sensitive development tool for the island country of Palau and working across traditional professional silos to foster community enhancing synergies during his tenure as Portland, Oregon’s first Chief Urban Designer.

Arun speaks about capitalizing on what he calls nexus points, where they naturally occur during the evolution of cities, and the challenges around artificially inducing such positive societal pivots. He feels we can improve and adapt more efficiently and with greater sensitivity by creating frameworks, or “good bones” in communities and cities. He feels that imperfect and enduring cities are far more interesting than artificial constructions: reflective of life itself – messy and incomplete, yet always full of future potential, possibility, and hope. Cities like us, are always better as works in progress.

Show Notes