In “How to Make an Attractive City,” a new video from the School of Life, London-based Swiss writer Alain de Botton offers a cheeky, thought-provoking, six-point manifesto on the need for making beauty a priority in urban architecture and design.
“So few cities are nice,” de Botton, the founder of Living Architecture, a British organization that commissions leading architects to build holiday rental homes in the U.K., says in the video. “Very, very few out of many thousands are really beautiful. Embarrassingly, the more appealing ones tend to be old.”
We might be getting better at making things like cars, planes, and phones, he says, but we’re getting worse at building beautiful cities. De Botton, who authored The Architecture of Happiness and is a popular speaker, argues that the idea that beauty is subjective is a half-truth. Maybe we can’t wholly agree on what beauty is, but we all know ugly when we see it. And the world’s cities, plagued with developer-led building and a lack of government oversight and public exigence, are becoming increasingly soulless and unlivable, even as the world’s population becomes more urban.