The Architecture of Happiness

The Architecture of Happiness

Book - 2006
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Bestselling author Alain de Botton considers how our private homes and public edifices influence how we feel, and how we could build dwellings in which we would stand a better chance of happiness. In this witty, erudite look at how we shape, and are shaped by, our surroundings, Alain de Botton applies Stendhal's motto that "Beauty is the promise of happiness" to the spaces we inhabit daily. Why should we pay attention to what architecture has to say to us? de Botton asks provocatively. With his trademark lucidity and humour, de Botton traces how human needs and desires have been served by styles of architecture, from stately Classical to minimalist Modern, arguing that the stylistic choices of a society can represent both its cherished ideals and the qualities it desperately lacks. On an individual level, de Botton has deep sympathy for our need to see our selves reflected in our surroundings; he demonstrates with great wisdom how buildings -- just like friends -- can serve as guardians of our identity. Worrying about the shape of our sofa or the colour of our walls might seem self-indulgent, but de Botton considers the hopes and fears we have for our homes at a new level of depth and insight. When shopping for furniture or remodelling the kitchen, we don't just consider functionality but also the major questions of aesthetics and the philosophy of art: What is beauty? Can beautiful surroundings make us good? Can beauty bring happiness? The buildings we find beautiful, de Botton concludes, are those that represent our ideas of a meaningful life. The Architecture of Happinessmarks a return to what Alain does best -- taking on a subject whose allure is at once tantalizing and a little forbidding and offering to readers a completely beguiling and original exploration of the subject. As he did with Proust, philosophy, and travel, now he does with architecture.
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, 2006.
ISBN: 9780771026027
Characteristics: 280 p. :,ill. ;,22 cm.


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ontherideau Jan 26, 2017

A very popular book stressing the importance of beauty in architecture.
"We owe it to the fields that our houses will not be the inferiors of the virgin land they replaced. We owe it to the worms and the trees that the buildings we cover them with will stand as promises of the highest and most intelligent kinds of happiness."

Jul 10, 2016

This is a short history of Western architecture and the psychology of artistic tastes. I read it in one vacation day while sitting on the beach and by the pool.

May 01, 2013

A book about architecture with no architwaddle - refreshing indeed. A good read about why art matters and how/why popular tastes change, built on a solid foundation that the buildings have to function appropriately for the inhabitants (take that, Corbusier!).

Mar 25, 2008

A very interesting book - glad it was on the Globe and Mail list of top 100


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Jul 10, 2016

How awkward to have to defend, in the face of more tangible needs, the benefits of realigning a crooked lamppost or replacing an ill-matched window frame. Pg 18

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