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@Read Epub ⛓ The Architecture of Happiness ì One of the great but often unmentioned causes of both happiness and misery is the quality of our environment the kinds of walls, chairs, buildings and streets that surround usAnd 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 it argues that it is architecture s task to stand as an eloquent reminder of our full potentialWhereas many architects are wary of openly discussing the word beauty, this book has at its center the large and na ve question What is a beautiful building It is a tour through the philosophy and psychology of architecture that aims to change the way we think about our homes, our streets and ourselves I really enjoyed this book It s fast paced, conversational and exploratory My favorite parts were the philosophizing about the nature of beauty For example, de Botton discusses how we subconsciously humanize almost everything we see We give buildings and sculptures personalities then judge them based on these projected human traits.He talks about how the buildings and art we find appealing reflect the fulfillment of our desires, not what we are or have, but the ideals we aspire to Because o I really enjoyed this book It s fast paced, conversational and exploratory My favorite parts were the philosophizing about the nature of beauty For example, de Botton discusses how we subconsciously humanize almost everything we see We give buildings and sculptures personalities then judge them based on these projected human traits.He talks about how the buildings and art we find appealing reflect the fulfillment of our desires, not what we are or have, but the ideals we aspire to Because of this, the context of the viewer and the location of the piece become key contributors to determining its beauty and success For example, churches should be capable of inspiring feelings of reverence or devotion in even non religious people Ornamental architecture has its place, as do the clean lines of modern architecture In context, each serves a purpose and shouldn t be written off in favor of some non existant universal ideal style.De Botton has interesting opinions on how to integrate historical styles with modern buildings and he spends some time critiquing existing architects and buildings based on those standards He feels that it s important to try to incorporate some of the unique historical aspects of the region s architecture but to also take into account modern needs and to be practical in choices His approach to bad architecture is basically that it should be treated like any other bad art get rid of it and start over At times, there was a definite air of snobbishness about it, for example he takes a pretty broad swipe at all of Tokyo, but I didn t mind it too much Snobbery can sometimes be productive Perhaps his destroy and rebuild approach isn t always practical but despite my reservations about his implied methods of implementation, I admire the idealized goal of elevating beauty everywhere possible The Architecture of Happiness is written like an essay meant to to raise for discussion both new and old but forgotten ideas as well as to inspire us to change and improve our environment In that, I believe it succeeds First read January 2008Casa P, Sao Paulo, by Marcio KoganThat most of this feels like something I might myself have written, I take to be an indictment of my own education I am going to an attempt a highly critical reading, because I am suspicious of how comfortable I feel in it Technically, it is as much about interior decoration as about architecture, but that makes less of a snappy title.The book never quite stops apologising for its subject, de Botton repeating that architecture seems triv First read January 2008Casa P, Sao Paulo, by Marcio KoganThat most of this feels like something I might myself have written, I take to be an indictment of my own education I am going to an attempt a highly critical reading, because I am suspicious of how comfortable I feel in it Technically, it is as much about interior decoration as about architecture, but that makes less of a snappy title.The book never quite stops apologising for its subject, de Botton repeating that architecture seems trivial to most people and that its effect on us is subtle and a depressing consequence of our moral and emotional frailty He ignores the fact that most people, while they may care deeply about their built environments, have little or no control over them.Negative views of people and life are also repeated over and over Such pessimism is easily justified of course, and in other books I have appreciated de Botton s gentle way of reminding us that we usually do not live up to our aspirations by sharing a relatable and amusing tale of his own failings However, I believe this taken for granted pessimism is corrosive, and I resent the way in which it functions here as an unjustified assumption when it is actually culturally specific It is as if to appeal to people who live unluxurious lives, de Botton s were to adopt a soothing tone I know it s hard butThe book is preoccupied with beauty, making a gesture towards understanding this as a problematic metric for architecture, which is not followed through Instead, de Botton defends it, essentially ridiculing modernism for treating beauty with suspicion That modernism, like neoclassicism for example, presented a set of values and hypocritically pretended objectivity about them is a good point, but it is insufficient to return us uncritically to north west European aesthetic values, the racist sexist classist grounding of which are here left almost untouched.De Botton does occasionally draw attention to and mildly criticise building that expresses elitism and self congratulation, butoften he is impressed by it The language of dominance and submission is deployed with disturbing approval and regularity From a traffic island at the upper end of a wide Parisian street, the view takes in a symmetrical, spacious corridor of stately apartment buildings that culminate in a wide square in which a man stands proudly on top of a column Despite the discord of the world, these blocks have settled their differences and humbly arranged themselves in perfect repetitive patterns not a single railing is out of lineThe buildings seem to have shuffled forwards like a troupe of ballet dancers, each one aligning its toes to the very same point on the pavement as though in obediance to the baton of a strict dancing master The dominant rhythm of the blocks is accompanied by subsidiary harmonic progressions of lamps and benches an impression of beauty tied to qualities of regularity and uniformity, inviting the conclusion that at the heart of a certain kind of architectural greatness there lies the concept of orderThe street speaks of the sacrifice demanded by all works of architecture the street moves us because we recognise how sharply its qualities contrast with those which generally colour our lives We call it beautiful from a humbling overfamiliarity with its antitheses in domestic life, with sulks and petty disputes, and in architecture, with streets whose elements crossly decide to pay no heed to the appearance of their neighbours and instead cry out chaotically for attention, like jealous and enraged lovers This ordered street offers a lesson in the benefits of surrendering individual freedom for the sake of a higher and collective scheme, in which all parts become something greater by contributing to the whole Though we are creatures inclined to squabble, kill, steal and lie, the street reminds us that we can occasionally master our baser impulses and turn a waste land, where for centuries wolves howled, into a monument of civilisation We might agree that repeated, regular forms in architecture can indeed be visually pleasing, and it could be argued that de Botton writes in this manner to express this value in a full blooded manner No doubt But since he argues, extensively, that architecture is aspirational and speaks to us about who we want to be, and also mourns failures to hear it, perhaps we should not let this call to get in line pass unremarked Religion, a preoccupation of de Botton, who assumes a secular white middle class British educated reader throughout, is another locus for feelings of submission I find it strange that he assumes everyone who enters a cathedral will feel the urge to fall to their knees and worship a being as mighty and sublime as we are ourselves small and inadequate I generally feel a contrary impulse to fly into the sky in concert with the soaring forms.The butt of de Botton s book is Le Corbusier, who is here, as elsewhere, blamed for the unedifying qualities of much of contemporary built environments De Botton does once quote his nemesis with approval however, when it serves his own argument for order and conservatism These things are beautiful because in the middle of the apparent incoherence of nature or the cities of men sic , they are places of geometry and is not geometry pure joy de Botton who also, by the way, uses the unmarked masculine for all people and the word mankind replies still talking about that same favourite regimental Parisian boulevard Joy because geometry represents a victory over nature and because, despite what a sentimental reading might suggest, nature is in truth oppose to the order we rely on to survive Left to its own devices, nature will not hesitate to crumble our roads, claw down our buildings, push wild vines through our walls and return every other feature of our carefully plotted geometric world to primal chaos Nature s way is to corrode, melt, soften, stain and chew on the works of man sic And eventually it will win Eventually we will find ourselves too worn out to resist its destructive centrifugal forces we will grow weary of repairing roofs and balconies, we will long for sleep, the lights will dim, and the weeds will be left to spread their cancerous tentacles unchecked over our libraries and shops our background awareness of inevitable calamity is what can make us especially sensitive to the beauty of a street, in which we recognise the very qualities on which our survival hangs centrifugal force does not exist.Again, my reader may object that I push too hard De Botton must dramatise his material that is what we expect from writers But this is not a novel and this language of malevolent violence attached to nature underlines that north west European culture is founded on settler colonialism in opposing civilisation to nature we see that the former must be madness We can take this attitude of machismo and supremacy to the natural world but we will eventually destroy ourselves, for everything we have comes from nature and our daily needs depend on it to an extreme degree A philosophy architectural ideology that disdains the fact that plants, in concert with water soil and sunlight, make the oxygen and glucose that every cell of our bodies requires every second to act and feel, is an ideology of delusion and death.I struggled not to be irritated by de Botton s sojourn in Japan, where he is petulant about the local architecture s failure to minister to the needs of his soul, formed elsewhere When he finds a building he likes, his description seems lifted straight from In Praise of Shadows , but he does not acknowledge it, and quotes the same work a couple of pages later, rather disparagingly I feel The idea that we might learn to appreciate an unfamiliar aesthetic from Japanese artefacts is presented with a take it or leave it air of humorous whimsy, less serious than the still fairly light tone in which, elsewhere, de Botton condemns the perverse idea that architects should be creative and laments that Palladio did not give usrules to obey OK I am overstating the case now That de Botton can present a conclusion about rightness in architecture without ever using the word I is perhaps the easiest demonstration of the self positioning of the text, what I call its expansive occupation of the normative ground By expanding briefly here and there into Islamic ecclesiastical architecture, Japanese ideas of beauty and occasional critiques of artistocratic privilege, de Botton gives the impression of having digested the entire spectrum of thought on his topic The deliberate impression of roundedness denies the existence of an angle.I have worked with architects, and I believe that the subject requires the very deepest thought, because I agree with de Botton that where we are shapes how we feel and what we do And because I think a successful architecture is one that responds to who we are and what we want How can one write a book on architecture without ever mentioning the body Architecture is, I believe, the art that answers dance, the art that mediates between the body and the earth And it is a collective endeavour, requiring for its realisation diverse materials and skills, all too often applied with no involvement of the people who must use them De Botton is moodily discontented with the status quo, but astonishingly he never considers the power relations inherent in questions of who benefits from decisions about what is built where, how and for whom to use It is not enough When I was a child I used to have long walks with my parents both architects along the streets of my home town and listen to them discuss almost every building, every design choice and ornament we passed Since then I got used to walking the streets looking up at the buildings this resulted in stepping inside numerous puddles, dogs business and never finding any coins and I thought that I could really see a building After reading this book I discovered a whole new way of looking at arch When I was a child I used to have long walks with my parents both architects along the streets of my home town and listen to them discuss almost every building, every design choice and ornament we passed Since then I got used to walking the streets looking up at the buildings this resulted in stepping inside numerous puddles, dogs business and never finding any coins and I thought that I could really see a building After reading this book I discovered a whole new way of looking at architecture I discovered that buildings have their own psychology it s in a way the building speaks to it s surroundings, it s in the way windows, doors, and other elements co exist In this book Alain asks questions like, why we consider some things beautiful What is elegance And what buildings say about the times they were build in, and what they don t say about people who live in them.I think that anyone who deals with aesthetics should give this book a go even if he doesn t find architecture particularly interesting I can assure you will find this book very stimulating.I also looked up some of the authors Alain mentions and found some interesting titles to add to my reading list Wilhelm Worringer Abstraction and Empathy A Contribution to the Psychology of Style and essaysRudolf Arnheim Art and Visual Perception A Psychology of the Creative Eye And essays by Friedrich Schiller I find myself looking at art and buildings differently after reading The Architecture of Happiness, so I cannot deny the power of the text on an architectural neophyte And while I don t agree with all of the author s assertions, I found myself reacting rigorously to his contentions Add beautiful prose, and yes, I can recommend The Architecture of Happiness.The book reads like a combination of architecture primer and persuasive essay stocked with supporting photos and illustrations De Botton I find myself looking at art and buildings differently after reading The Architecture of Happiness, so I cannot deny the power of the text on an architectural neophyte And while I don t agree with all of the author s assertions, I found myself reacting rigorously to his contentions Add beautiful prose, and yes, I can recommend The Architecture of Happiness.The book reads like a combination of architecture primer and persuasive essay stocked with supporting photos and illustrations De Botton s focus on the individual, psychological responses to what he calls ugly and beautiful buildings is engaging for example, when discussing the role of art in a house he says Behind wanting to own the painting and hang it where we could regularly study it might be the hope that through continued exposure to it, its qualities would come to assume a greater hold on us Passing it on the stairs last thing at night or in the morning on our way to work would have the effect of a magnet which could pull to the surface submerged filaments of our characters The painting would act as a guardian of a mood.However, the author s reliance on the collective we is sometimes problematic De Botton uses the collective we to support his sometimes shaky assertions For example, he broadly asserts that disordered societies will seek out ordered art and buildings and stringent societies will seek outcreative art and buildings I m not sure generalizations of that nature are widespread enough to cover the we in the way De Botton suggests.I have to say, however, that De Botton writes beautifully enough to lull his reader past a few questionable points, and once I became comfortable with the personal, conversational approach I could sit back and have fun with the book Ladies, by the way, this guy is British, smart, young, and, from the book jacket pic, good looking Keep your eyes out for book signings.After reading The Architecture of Happiness I find myself thinking of why my Day of the Dead nightlight makes me happy and what I could do to improve my office s cinderblock walls I don t know jack about architecture no single book can change that but I ll tilt my head a little differently and think in new ways about architecture as a result of this book If you re into that sort of change your perspective on a common societal element text, check it out.edit I take back what I said about him being good looking after I checked out his author pic on his goodreads page He looks like he s aged about 100 years since the book jacket pic