Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to urban changemakers and holding an annual Vanguard conference bringing together 40 top young urban leaders.
Name: Noushin Jafari
Current Occupation: Freelance Designer
Hometown: Tehran, Iran
Current City: New York
I drink: Coffee, wherever there is a good one to be found!
I get to work by: Train
The area I grew up in is: City
What was your first job? I used to do paperwork at an architecture agency in Paris.
What is your favorite city and why? I believe contemporary Berlin is something like New York in the early ’90s, growing fast in an artistic direction with a high percentage of dynamic youth.
What do you like most about your current job? What I really like about what I do is the hierarchy I apply in my working system: using a combination of sociological, anthropological, and technical approaches in my analysis and conclusions. Also form designing, and honing my presentation skills.
Noushin Jafari’s Wild Ribbon project aimed to animate the Eastern area (La place de la nation) of Paris. It recently won the A’ Design Award & Competition in Italy for urban planning and urban design. “To animate the area, I used a connected ribbon that self-adapts in its function, facing each corner of the square (which connects Paris to its Eastern suburbs). The ribbon goes down with people into the subway area in all levels as “stair railing” and makes spaces beside the trains, comes up and makes moves on the ground to make compatibles spaces with every part the square, benches, et cetera,” says Jafari.
What is the coolest project you worked on? A project in Iran about the transformation of a heritage mansion (Ameriha House in Kashan-Iran) into a five-star international hotel. We started with a very, very little crew doing everything, and ended with about 100 people involved.
What are the hard parts about your job? The hardest part is the very technical way of thinking, because I believe it can limit ideas. The other part is the cruel deadlines. I always wish I could have the time to do something more sophisticated than what I have.
What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? Cities are facing challenges today in many different directions, and all are important to consider in urban projects. Sustainability in design and materials, lack of water, pollution, overpopulated zones and historic preservation.
What makes a successful leader? Being a good listener, and strong enough to make decisions.
What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? To design a whole brand-new city.
What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? To be open to new ideas. We are designing cities for the future, for days that haven’t come, a time with more advanced technology than we have now, and with different needs. So let’s be welcoming to new thoughts and viewpoints, consider nature in all urban decisions, and take advantage of having good sociologists, anthropologists and thinkers on our teams.