Author and activist Jane Jacobs famously asked “(what) kind of a problem the city is”.1 At the time, she argued that the city had been framed as the wrong problem type. This, in turn, had led to planning solutions that were destroying urban life and character. She warned that each problem must be tackled with the appropriate “methods of analysis and discovery (and) strategies for thinking”, otherwise a solution might be futile or even aggravating.
Never has this prognosis been more urgent than it is today. As we examine the impact of buildings, neighbourhoods and cities, we must correctly identify the problem type, or find ourselves spiralling down a rabbit hole of misdirected analyses and incremental fixes.