The Architecture of Happiness

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McClelland & Stewart, Dec 3, 2010 - Architecture - 288 pages
22 Reviews
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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 Happiness marks 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.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - MarkLacy - LibraryThing

Not what I had hoped or thought it would be: how we design and construct happiness. Rather, this should've been titled "The Happiness of Architecture," because architecture is the chief topic. Much ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - PattyLee - LibraryThing

I do love architecture and frequently find myself fascinated by examples of architecture while traveling. This is a beautifully written book, sort of part philosophy and part close observation of ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8
Section 11
Section 12
Section 13
Section 14
Section 15
Section 16
Section 17
Section 18

Section 9
Section 10

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About the author (2010)

Alain de Botton has published four non-fiction books: Status Anxiety, The Art of Travel, How Proust Can Change Your Life, and The Consolations of Philosophy. In February 2003, de Botton was made a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, one of France’s highest artistic honours. In November of the same year, he was awarded the Prix Européen de l’Essai Charles Veillon. In 2004, Status Anxiety was awarded the prize for the Economics Book of the Year by the Financial Times, Germany. Cambridge-educated, de Botton now lives in London.

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