In Search of Eudaimonia or Why We Cannot Just Design Happiness
The first three days of 2018 were unlike any I had ever experienced. I was in Laos visiting the town of Luang Prabang, a Unesco World Heritage site known for its rich urban character and remarkably well-preserved architectural and cultural heritage. As I wandered the side streets — with their human-scale temples, humble homes, cool cafes, and seamless integration with the local ecosystem — I was struck by just how good this town made me feel. What I found so striking wasn’t just its visual appearance, but also its acoustic ecology, its friendly residents and its simple cuisine. As others who have visited Luang Prabang before me have noted, it’s the kind of singular place that can elicit this sort of response for no other reason than just being there.
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How finely tuned or optimized should we try to make our buildings and cities if wellbeing largely depends on people’s own efforts?