A new video by Alain de Botton examines what makes cities beautiful. According to de Botton, attractive cities have six qualities:
1/ Order, but some variety
2/ Visible life
4/ Mystery and orientation
6/ A sense of the local
Paris, New York and Barcelona all meet these standards, he says, but Phoenix, Munich and “most cities” all over the world don’t.
Beauty is an essential quality to live-ability – a number of studies have shown that the perception of living in a beautiful place is strongly correlated with happiness.
A 2011 study examined a number of questions directly related to the built environment, including the convenience of public transportation, the ease of access to shops, the presence of parks and sports facilities, the ease of access to cultural and entertainment facilities and the presence of libraries. All were found to correlate significantly with happiness, with convenient public transportation and easy access to cultural and leisure facilities showing the strongest correlation. Additionally, the more respondents felt their city was beautiful, felt it was clean, and felt safe walking at night, the more likely they were to report being happy. Among these, the perception of living in a beautiful city had the strongest correlation with happiness.