Set an objective definition of beauty to save our cities

The reason why beautiful cities are no longer being built is not for lack of economic power, government policies or technical expertise, as Financial Times columnist Tim Harford suggests

Rather, the root cause is more philosophical. It’s become taboo to suggest that beauty can be objective.

In the past, planners used a good basic model and imposed it widely, with successful results. This doesn’t mean that only a single model exists. Florence, Edinburgh, Kyoto and Luang Prabang in northern Laos, for example, are each unique, but each is objectively beautiful and pleasant.

But by being convinced that all aesthetic judgments are relative, we have surrendered to the lowest common denominator of city-building, with dreadful results.


This was published as a letter to the editor in the Financial Times

Photo credit: Sofie Delauw