The Architecture of Happiness

Category: Book
By (author): De Botton, Alain
Subject:  ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / Residential
  ARCHITECTURE / Criticism
  PHILOSOPHY / Aesthetics
  PHILOSOPHY / General
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Published: April 2008
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 288
Size: 8.13in x 6.10in
Our Price:
$ 22.95
Availability:
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Additional Notes

From The Publisher*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.
Review Quote*"De Botton is a lively guide, and his eclectic choices of buildings and locations evince his conclusion, that "we should be as unintimidated by architectural mediocrity as we are by unjust laws."
-The New Yorker

The next time I'm at a party, and the conversation turns to "serious topics," like what the stock market did today, I think I'll suggest we talk about something more important: architecture. I'll ask the investment banker why he bought the house he did and insist he answer the question. And then I'll start quoting Alain de Botton.
-The National Post

If this book were a building, it would be a contemporary reading room, I think, with big windows, and clean, built-in bookshelves with a fold-out step ladder just right for fetching slim volumes from the top shelf. The elegant clarity and brisk humour of his style, accompanied by pages of photos, opens your eyes to the rich possibility of thinking about your home, and your city, in a new way.
-The Toronto Star

"De Botton's books are the literary equivalent of the Slow Food movement. They demand to be lingered over, not because the concepts are difficult but because they are rich and deep. Be prepared to put down your book frequently and turn his last few sentences over in your mind, testing his theses against the rooms and buildings you know well."
-The Globe and Mail

"In this simple, entertaining and brilliant book, Alain de Botton explores how architecture speaks to us and why it affects all aspects of human life. His great strength is to explain things we always knew but never understood." 
-Christopher Hume, Architecture Critic, Toronto Star

"How did we ever manage without de Botton?"
- Sunday Times (U.K.)

"[de Botton] deals with questions of style, ideas of beauty, notions about why certain structures appeal to us. The author argues that we love beautiful buildings because they solidify ideas we have about ourselves and our world. They put into concrete form our aspirations; they compensate for our human weaknesses; in short, they make us happy. Virtually every page contains a sentence any essayist would be proud to have written. A lyrical and generously illustrated monograph about the intimate relationship between our buildings and ourselves."
- Kirkus Reviews

"Singlehandedly, de Botton has taken philosophy back to its simplest and most important purpose: helping us live our lives."
- Independent


From the Hardcover edition.
Biographical NoteAlain 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.