Alain de Botton: Six fundamental things cities need to get right.


 We’ve grown good at making many things in the modern world – but strangely the art of making attractive cities has been lost. Here are some key principles for how to make attractive cities once again.


 CityLab covers it too:

The philosopher, author, and founder of London’s The School of Life lays out six qualities of attractive cities:
  1. Order (buildings should be uniform in appearance and layout—to a degree)
  2. Visible life (it’s nice to see people walking the streets and working in shop windows)
  3. Compactness (don’t sprawl)
  4. Orientation and mystery (a balance of large and small streets should allow for efficient travel… and for getting lost, on occasion)
  5. Scale (a building should be five stories max, unless what it stands for isreally worth more air space)
  6. A sense of the local (Melbourne should look a little different from Barcelona, because its cultural and geographic qualities are different).



  1. Wow! So succinct. I love it.

    Many thoughts I’ve had before. Number 6. I was thinking recently about how people feel excited about travelling so much anymore. Part of it is that it’s the same when you get somewhere else. Buildings are the same, shopping is the same, etc. Why even travel then?

    I like the point at the end that people have become so annoyed by ugly new buildings that they then oppose anything new automatically. So true.

  2. Good for you Ray, although your animation is far too kind. What we see in the city of today . . .

    . . . is a result of, lazy professional/educational standards, and a process more compatible with bureaucracy than city building. A process allowing its instigators, masquerading as planners, architects, developers, decision makers etc. to get off easily!

    May I add one small detail, incremental to your animation . . .

    . . . . urban villages, Buenos Aires, London, Paris and as was Vancouver when arrived in 1951.

    And . . .

    . . . what is the point, “GETTING THERE OR BEING THERE”?

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