The book I just finished, “The Architecture of Happiness” by Alain de Botton, is one that I read slowly in order to savor the language. This is the second book I’ve read by de Botton and he is a smart writer, putting together words in unexpected ways to create insights that make you think.
One of his make-you-think statements is the following:
“It is in dialogue with pain that many beautiful things acquire their value.” (pg. 25)
“The Architecture of Happiness” is an exploration of architecture, but it doesn’t dwell on happiness. Rather, it discusses how architecture, especially great architecture, fulfills the psychological needs of people. For example, the simplicity of modern architecture arose from the increasing complexity of modern lives, giving us a places of respite and helping us to meet a need for stripping out some of the chaos. Great architecture gives us something to strive for.
From the book: “In essence, what works of design and architecture talk to us about is the kind of life that would most appropriately unfold within and around them. They tell us of certain moods that they seek to encourage and sustain in their inhabitants.” (pg. 72)
Joining the weighty ideas in this book are plenty of photographs to illustrate de Botton’s points. It makes for a lovely presentation about architecture from a variety of ages.