- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 8, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307277240
- ISBN-13: 978-0307277244
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 133 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Architecture of Happiness Paperback – April 8, 2008
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“De Botton has a marvelous knack for coming at weighty subjects from entertainingly eccentric angles.”
—The Seattle Times
"An elegant book. . . . Unusual . . . full of big ideas. . . . Seldom has there been a more sensitive marriage of words and images."
—The New York Sun
"With originality, verve, and wit, de Botton explains how we find reflections of our own values in the edifices we make. . . . Altogether satisfying."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"De Botton is high falutin' but user friendly. . . . He keeps architecture on a human level."
—Los Angeles Times
About the Author
Alain de Botton is the author of three works of fiction and five of nonfiction, including How Proust Can Change Your Life, The Consolations of Philosophy, and The Art of Travel. He lives in London.
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De Botton writes beautifully and passionately with helpful photographs or renderings that compare and contrast what he is extolling or criticizing. The final two chapters ("The Virtues of Buildings" and "The Promise of a Field") are particularly fine. In them, he discusses (among other things) order, elegance, balance, and coherence. The promise of a field is a paean to the spaces we occupy that were once either uncluttered or naturally beautiful in their own right. De Botton argues that if we are going to plop down a structure in the midst of nature (which already contains natural order, elegance, and balance) let us at least make it a 'best effort'. Put thought and consideration into the process rather than just utilitarian or worse, adding another scar on the landscape. Let's make cities like Edinburgh or Bath--conceived, planned and executed with purpose, not the awful sprawl of London or Los Angeles. I couldn't agree more.
None of the arguments in the book are earth-shattering, and they shouldn't be. De Botton's ultimate purpose of the book is to convert the "non-believers" of architecture who believe that the profession is nothing more than fanciful, unnecessary ornament. It successfully proves why we need architecture in a very gradual way: first, if you believe that who you are depends on external forces (not a very demanding concept for even the most cynical), then you can come to believe that who you are depends on where you are, followed by who you are depends on the built environment around you as much as the people in your life. After he adds this concluding link in his chain of persuasion, de Botton provides a list of five virtues that any happy structure should reflect: order, balance, elegance, coherence, and self-knowledge.