Beautiful Facets

The Beautiful Facets are 15 categories of civic beauty.

They derive from the identification of “common threads” among the theories of beauty of the leading aesthetic philosophers, architects, city planners, and other related disciplines since the time of the Ancient Greeks on up to the present – whose pictures are on the right, and whom you can read about at the Details tab. For example, did Aristotle, Immanuel Kant (often called the father of aesthetic philosophy), and architect Frank Lloyd Wright espouse similar views on civic beauty? Further, the common threads are linked to the anatomy of the human brain, and to the works of behavioral psychologists, notably those associated with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs.

All beautiful urban places can be described using the vocabulary of the 15 Beautiful Facets. The vocabulary is analogous to the terms used in evaluating works of art. The Mona Lisa and all other paintings can be characterized in terms of Balance, Variety, Rhythm, and so on. The Beautiful Facets are just such a vocabulary for civic beauty.

For extensive information on the development and benefits of the Beautiful Facets, see the free e-book at the Details tab.

Since “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” all of us will have our set of favorites among the 15 Beautiful Facets. That is, each of us will have a personal ranking of the 15 Beautiful Facets from our most favorite to least favorite. You can discover your personal favorite Beautiful Facets at the Ranking Test tab.

Thereafter, you can use the results of the Ranking Test to heighten your beautiful experiences when visiting cities worldwide, either virtually at this website or in person. You can also compare your results to those of your friends, to find out how similar your perspectives are!


Epiphany

Definition:

Beautiful experiences epitomizing that which may not be provable, frequently is spiritual, always is a leap of faith, while simultaneously validate one's sense of self-worth and even transcendence. Typical civic features: churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other places of worship.

Who Talks About It:

Examples:

Temple of Heaven (Beijing, China)
Golden Temple (Armritsar, India)
Golden Pavilion (Kyoto, Japan)


Mentoring

Definition:

Beautiful experiences stemming from teaching, inspiring, or otherwise contributing to the lives of humankind directly (e.g., one-on-one instruction) or indirectly (e.g., writing a book), including the self-esteem from being qualified to do so. Typical civic features: universities, museums, and libraries.

Who Talks About It:

Examples:

British Museum (London, England)
Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France)
University of Bologna (Bologna, Italy)


Self-Fulfillment

Definition:

Beautiful experiences arising not only from recognizing and enjoying a state of self actualization - "be all that you can be" - but also from being able to competently contribute back to the world (i.e., not wasting one's precious life, not just taking up space).Typical civic features: Olympic stadiums and similar sports venues, houses of parliament, and performance halls for opera, symphony, ballet, etc.

Who Talks About It:

Examples:

Teatro alla Scala (Milan, Italy)
National/Olympic Stadium (Beijing, China)
Dr. Sun Yat Sen Museum (Hong Kong, China)


Elegance

Definition:

Beautiful experiences emanating from the well proportioned, refined, graceful qualities of an object, sometimes described mathematically. Typical civic features: palaces and other exquisitely designed edifices.

Who Talks About It:

Examples:

Winter Palace / Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Chrysler Building (New York, USA)
Conservancy of Flowers (San Francisco, USA)


Originality

Definition:

Beautiful experiences springing from appealingly novel, unprecedented, or even unique circumstances and interpretations, including those one personally causes to happen (i.e., creativity). Typical civic features: unique and compelling buildings, bridges, and other manmade structures.

Who Talks About It:

Examples:

Lotus Temple (Delhi, India)
Niterói Contemporary Art Museum (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
La Pedrera (Barcelona, Spain)


Revelation

Definition:

Beautiful experiences deriving from investigating, evaluating and assimilating pieces of life's endless complexity, including not only the knowledge gained but also the gratification of solving a puzzle. Typical civic features: science museums, highly specialized boutique museums, and single artist museums (e.g., Picasso, Miro, Monet).

Who Talks About It:

Examples:

Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago, USA)
Exploratorium (San Francisco, USA)
Rodin Museum (Paris, France)


Grandeur

Definition:

Beautiful Experiences emerging from awe of the magnitude, impressiveness, eminence of a place or structure, notably those engendering a sense of affinity and pride. Typical civic features: very large, impressive building complexes, other types of engineering feats, and plazas.

Who Talks About It:

Examples:

Great Pyramid (Giza, Egypt)
Grand Palace (Bangkok, Thailand)
Burj Khalifa (Dubai, UAE)


Selfhood

Definition:

Beautiful experiences launched by surroundings that contribute to and resonate with one's positive self-image. Typical civic features: pride-based monuments and parades, cultural institutions, ethnic arts/crafts markets, emerging artists galleries, and prominent shopping streets.

Who Talks About It:

Examples:

Statue of Liberty (New York, USA)
Tiananmen Square (Beijing, China)
Place de la Bastille (Paris, France)


Chronicle

Definition:

Beautiful experiences coming from interactions with historical streetscapes, buildings, photographs, songs, and other reminders of the past - which underscore our universal affiliations over space and time. Typical civic features: salient historical sites, restored/heritage areas, cemeteries, and history-of-our-city museums.

Who Talks About It:

Examples:

City History Museums of Paris, New York City, Athens, etc. - notably the members of the international museum society CAMOC


Kinship

Definition:

Beautiful experiences flowing from a highly agreeable, distinctive social and cultural environment, especially when "everyone knows your name and they're always glad you came". Typical civic features: distinct neighborhoods, festival, ethnic and racial institutes, and nightlife districts.

Who Talks About It:

Examples:

Greenwich Village (New York, USA)
Latin Quarter (Paris, France)
Aberdeen Floating Village (Hong Kong, China)


Nature

Definition:

Beautiful experiences originating in the natural world - ultimately the source of everything humankind knows and frequently the benchmark for the perfection humankind pursues. Typical civic features: municipal parks, formal and botanical gardens, zoos and aquariums.

Who Talks About It:

Examples:

Hyde Park / Kensington Gardens (London, UK)
Ueno Park (Tokyo, Japan)
Golden Gate Park (San Francisco, USA)


Surety

Definition:

Beautiful experiences issuing from a secure, reliable, consistent, and predictable environment. Typical civic features: military installations, museums, and memorials, as well as lighthouses.

Who Talks About It:

Examples:

Nijo Castle (Kyoto, Japan)
Gwalior Fort (Gwalior, India)
Castel Sant'Angelo (Rome, Italy)


Synergy

Definition:

Beautiful experiences leveraging off the simultaneous stimulation of two or more senses, i.e., "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Typical civic features: multi-sensory festivals, theme parks, cabarets/dinner theaters, extensive shopping/entertainment complexes.

Who Talks About It:

Examples:

Festivals - Mardi Gras, Burning Man, etc. (USA)
Cabarets - Moulin Rouge, Le Lido, etc. (Paris, France)
Other Events - Circuses, Rock Concerts, etc.


Dynamism

Definition:

Beautiful experiences streaming from energetic rather than static circumstances, whether one is stationary or in motion, and when environs are changing by time of day, seasons of the year, etc. Typical civic features: various transit systems (e.g., cable cars), promenades, walking/hiking/bicycling trails, scenic drives, and fireworks/light shows.

Who Talks About It:

Examples:

Sugarloaf Mountain Cable Car (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Gondolas (Venice, Italy)
Staten Island Ferry (New York, USA)


Sensation

Definition:

Beautiful experiences bursting from the vivification of our biological senses (visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactory, tactile, proprioceptive, gravitational), arguably enhanced by awareness training. Typical civic features: open air markets (especially food-centric), beach fronts, and viewpoint/panoramas,

Who Talks About It:

Examples:

Grand Bazaar (Istanbul, Turkey)
Porte de Clignancourt Flea Market (Paris, France)
Fisherman's Wharf (San Francisco, USA)