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How to Design a Beautiful City, According to Swiss Philosopher Alain de Botton

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In a provocative new video, Swiss philosopher Alain de Botton argues that there's a science to designing "beautiful cities" and proceeds to outline a six-point manifesto on how cities can get it right, in the looks department at least:

1. Order and variety—cities should have "balance, symmetry, repetition" but shoudn't be so uniform that it's "soul-destroying."

2. Visible life—one should be able to look at the streets and see plenty going on (people working in a bakery, browsing a bookshop, etc.)

3. Compactness—say no to sprawl, say yes to a really great square.

4. Orientation and mystery—"backstreets and small lanes where you can feel cozy and get a bit lost," in addition to a few big traffic-friendly boulevards.

5. Scale—blocks should be capped at five stories high, anything larger must actually "deserve homage" (e.g. mosques, cathedrals, museums.)

6. Make it local—the architecture should be informed by the city's culture, history, natural resources.

Since the video's been released, there has already been a flurry of online comments—some in agreement, others pointing out, say, how ridiculous it is to limit almost all buildings to five stories. Still others argue the whole premise is misguided since the most "beautiful" city does not mean the most livable one. What say you, Curbed readers?

Here's the full video:

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