Ruben Hanssen on How Urban Planning can be Beautiful, Transforming Dystopic Future into Bliss | The Cave of Apelles

Growing up in Rembrandt’s hometown Leiden, Ruben Hanssen developed an interest for the built environment and has studied Urban Planning at the University of Amsterdam and Urbanism at the Delft University of Technology.

In 2021 he founded The Aesthetic City which is a podcast devoted to the discussion of how to build a more livable, healthy and beautiful environment. The channel is also featured on YouTube with educational content, such as the very informative video called “Why is it Beautiful?”:

What is going wrong in cities all over the world? Which errant paths do planners still take?
What “collective image” do we have of the future? How is the mainstream idea of the future formed by popular media and tending towards dystopian nightmarish visions?

Ruben Hanssen covers these questions and more.

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Chapter markers:
00:35 Introduction
01:25 How Hanssen got into urban planning
07:05 Beauty: a non-subject in education
12:40 A practical approach
16:08 Problems of concept & sales-based architecture
21:24 The Aesthetic City podcast
30:43 Beauty from a neuroscientific perspective
36:44 Ugliness causes stress, fear and suspicion
40:21 The importance of ground level floors
44:23 Leon Krier’s Cayala in Guatemala
49:43 Dystopic or blissful view of the future?
59:38 Beauty is hard, ugliness is easy
1:03:01 Vitruvius on beauty
1:06:12 Regular spaces can easily be made pleasant
1:10:28 A change for the better?
1:12:41 Summer schools in classical architecture
1:17:22 Estimation grows when knowledge grows
1:20:15 What is wrong with the field of urban design?
1:25:58 Real alternatives vs Progress (towards what?)
1:31:05 Increasing literacy of what works

This episode featured Ruben Hanssen & Carl Korsnes and was filmed and edited by Bork Nerdrum.
The centerpiece was a photograph of Azaria Civic Hall in Cayala, Guatemala by Ruben Hanssen.



Fergus Ryan
Matthias Proy
Børge Moe
Eivind Josten

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