Saturday, 27 May 2006

The architecture of happiness

Having just heard a very brief interview between Mike Hosking and author/philosopher/publishing phenomenon Alain de Botton on Alain's new book, pictured left, I'm interested to find out more about it. Commentator Joe Bennett is a fan -- his books, says Bennett, "hauled philosophy from the high shelves to the bedside table" which isn't necessarily a bad thing -- and on the face of it, his thesis sounds laudable as far as it goes:
One of the great, but often unmentioned, causes of both happiness and misery is the quality of our environment: the kind of walls, chairs, buildings and streets we’re surrounded by. And yet a concern for architecture and design is too often described as frivolous, even self-indulgent. 'The Architecture of Happiness' starts from the idea that where we are heavily influences who we can be - and argues that it is architecture’s task to stand as an eloquent reminder of our full potential.
I'm curious to see just how far he does go with that argument, yet more than a little concerned by one reviewer's comment that in his latest "philosopher looks at architecture" routine
de Botton is just looking at façades, whereas,
Great architecture is mostly concerned with the arrangement of space and light... What de Botton has done is the equivalent of literary criticism based on jacket design: a very interesting idea, but not the full story.
Since I've argued elsewhere that the essence of architecture is space, I really hope de Botton does go further.

Anyway, looks like the website for the book has a great deal of information, and even some video clips from the TV series that was evidently made from the book. Interesting.

LINKS: 'The Architecture of Happiness' by Alain de Botton - author's website, including reviews, extracts and video clips
Audio Interview with Alain de Botton - Scoop
'The Architecture of Happiness' - review by Stephen Bayley, The Independent
What is architecture? - Peter Cresswell, SOLO

TAGS: Architecture

1 comment:

  1. I beleive it is screening on TV One currently under the title "The Perfect Home". Watched an episode a week or two back.


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