How to make an attractive city

Last month, I shared this fabulous Alain de Botton video here on my blog; I am re-posting it again today for anyone who has yet to see it.

de Botton explains the six key elements of successful urban development, and he concludes with a simple truth, in his words: "Beautiful cities have only ever been created when governments impose strict and ambitious regulations...."

I encourage everyone to watch this 14-minute animation; it's a great introduction to the practice of urban design and offers a number of lessons for all who are interested in urban placemaking.

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  • Alec Papazian
    I think this article is a good response to that video and some of the problems with it:

    “Another contradiction is when the video argues a city cannot be shaped by a free real estate market. However, most of the cities the video uses as good examples were, in fact, built by within extremely deregulated real estate market compared to today’s standards. This is true for almost all medieval cities, old London neighborhoods, the Marais in Paris (what was untouched by Haussmann’s renovation) with the additional examples of Hong Kong, New York and even the historical centers of Brazilian cities.

    By understanding the city as a complex, emergent environment, we should let go of the urge to impose our personal interests in urban form. The video’s final conclusions, calling for an increase in government control and a rigid regulation of the urban environment is as dangerous and has the same mindset as the failed plans of Brasilia. And as dangerous as modern urbanism theory in general, which sees the city as built physical space that can be modeled by what planners want to achieve. Cities must be the result of spontaneous and voluntary action by all its citizens, not of a committee that decides what is right, wrong, beautiful or ugly. Restraint from imposition by those who arrogantly proclaim they know what’s best for the extremely complex organisms we call cities will eventually lead to what I like to call planned chaos."