No one on the planet responds deeply to Brisbane, according to philosopher Alain de Botton.

No one on the planet responds deeply to Brisbane, according to philosopher Alain de Botton. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Is Brisbane the ugliest duckling of Australian cities?

According to world-renowned philosopher Alain de Botton, yes.

Ahead of a speaking engagement with the Brisbane Powerhouse on Friday night, the UK author has described Brisbane as offering "chaotic ugliness".

Philosopher Alain de Botton.

Philosopher Alain de Botton. Photo: Wayne Taylor

"No one looks at the waterfront of Brisbane, the capital of the Australian state of Queensland, and feels deeply moved by the grace and sweetness of the scene," he wrote on his site The Philosopher's Mail.

"While most people find the centre of Paris wonderful and others will delight in the winding streets of Siena, no one on the planet responds deeply to the brutal cross city expressway and chunky stained brown office blocks of the city."

De Botton said planning restrictions in Brisbane contributed to its ugliness, yet no one voiced it because we were led to believe taste was subjective.

"The regulations say absolutely nothing about the most important thing: whether a building has to be beautiful or noble or grand or elegant," he wrote.

"That is regarded as entirely beyond the range of governmental duty.

"So even though almost everyone on the planet thinks that either Siena or Paris is delightful and everyone thinks that Brisbane is a bit of a mess, we don't dare to speak; we are left cowering.

"We feel paralysed - unable to state the obvious. And that's because we have talked ourselves into the belief that taste is always relative."