The Architecture of Happiness

Front Cover
McClelland & Stewart, Dec 3, 2010 - Philosophy - 288 pages
15 Reviews
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.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Brendan.H - LibraryThing

Seemed incredibly devoted to a touchy-feely, almost pop psychology, view of architecture and architectural history. I got the feeling I'd really hate de Botton if I spent any time with him. Still, for ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mattparfitt - LibraryThing

I enjoyed reading the book: de Botton is an insightful and skilled writer. His style tends to be somewhat uniform: articulate, careful, always bordering on fussiness and pretentiousness. His range of ... Read full review

Contents

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Ideals1
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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.


From the Hardcover edition.

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