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The Architecture of Happiness (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 20. April 2006

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" 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 neverunderstood."
-- 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."


What makes a house beautiful? Is it serious to spend your time thinking about home decoration? Why do people disagree about taste? And can buildings make us happy? In "The Architecture of Happiness", Alain de Botton tackles a relationship central to our lives. Our buildings - and the objects we fill them with - affect us more profoundly than we might think. To take architecture seriously is to accept that we are, for better and for worse, different people in different places. De Botton suggests that it is architecture's task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be. Turning the spotlight from the humble terraced house to some of the world's most renowned buildings, de Botton considers how our private homes and public edifices - from those of Christopher Wren to those of Le Corbusier and Norman Foster - influence how we feel, as well as how we could learn to build in ways that would increase our chances of happiness. "The Architecture of Happiness" amounts to a beguiling tour through the philosophy and psychology of architecture.

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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Der Buchkauf lohnt schon wegen dem enthaltenen Bildmaterial und der gesamten Machart. Es ist in 'Janson' gesetzt, mit unüblicher Sorgfalt.
Alain de Botton hat einen sehr eigenen Humor: Unter einem Foto mit Göring beim französischen Botschafter "The moral ineffectiveness of a beautiful home". Im Hintergrund Lucas Cranach.
Noch ein Zitat: "The noblest of architecture can sometimes do less for us than a siesta or an aspirin"
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Format: Taschenbuch
Considering the significance of architecture, the author remarks that beautiful houses falter as guarantors of happiness and can also be accused of failing to improve the characters of those who live in them and proceeds by explaining why this is so. Karl Friedrich Schinkel for example stated that to turn something useful, practical, and functional into something beautiful is the architect's duty. Architecture should thus be the decoration of construction as distinguished from mere building. The architects of the Modernist movement, like all their predecessors, wanted their houses to speak and express emotions. Indeed buildings speak. They speak of democracy or aristocracy, openness or arrogance, welcome or threat, sympathy for the future or a hankering for the past.
Interestingly enough what we search for in a work of architecture is not so far from what we search for in a friend because the objects we describe as beautiful art versions of the people we love. The buildings we admire are those which extol values we think are worthwhile: through their materials, shapes and colours they express qualities such as friendliness, kindness, subtlety, strength and intelligence. As Stendhal wrote, "Beauty is the promise of happiness."
We are vulnerable to what the spaces we inhabit are saying. In a drab hotel room our optimism and sense of purpose are liable to drain away. We look to our buildings to hold us, like a kind of psychological mould, to a helpful vision of ourselves. We need a home in the psychological sense as much as we need a home in the physical sense: to compensate for vulnerability, we need a refuge.
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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Über den Inhalt dieses Buches kann ich noch nicht viel sagen, aber die Bindung (Hardcover von Hamilton) ist furchtbar! Auch wenn man es vielleicht für eine gute Idee halten kann, ein Buch über Architektur mit Schwarzweißfotografien von niedrigem Kontrast zu illustrieren - es ist definitiv keine gute Idee, für dieses Buch übelriechendes Papier zu benutzen und es so zu binden, dass die Mitte der zweiseitigen Bilder nicht sichtbar ist und man keine Chance hat, das Buch so aufzuschlagen, dass die Seiten geöffnet bleiben. Ich werde nun doch mal einen Blick in die deutsche Version werfen, hoffentlich ist die besser.
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I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this book. It is written in beautiful English and gives food for thought. Not just for architecture lovers.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.1 von 5 Sternen 121 Rezensionen
117 von 125 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Couldn't wait to read it! 26. April 2006
Von Charles S. Houser - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I'm a big fan of Alain de Botton's writing, so when I saw that his newest book, "The Architecture of Happiness" would not be released in the US until October 2006, I ordered it directly from Amazon.uk. I read it in two or three days and was not disappointed. Botton has a great way of connecting the writings and thoughts of the great minds of world civilization to everyday human experiences. In this case, to the kinds of buildings (public and private) we build or aspire to build, or conversely, tolerate and settle for. The book is amply illustrated. As nice as these photographs and illustrations are, Botton's writing is so precise and illustrative in its own right that the illustrations are not always necessary.

In contrast to "The Art of Travel" and "The Consolations of Philosophy", Botton's new book does not rely on quotations from ancient and modern philosphers and theorists to make its points. Quotations are few, but apt. In compensation, though, I feel Botton is exposing the reader more directly to his own thoughts, observations, and assessments. He is less melancholic than in his earlier works; also, less clever and cute. He's as interesting as ever; just more authentic, exposed, and confident in his own voice. As I was reading I found that the sentences I wanted to underline were mostly Botton's own, not those of someone he was quoting. One of these should give you a good idea of where this book will take you: "We arrange around us material forms which communicate to us what we need--but are at constant risk of forgetting we need--within. We turn to wallpaper, benches, paintings and streets to staunch the disappearance of our true selves." (p. 107)

It's hard to remain a sleepwalker after reading one of Alain de Botton's books. An they always bear re-reading. (A sticker on the cover of the book identifies "The Architecture of Happiness" as the inspiration of the TV series "The Perfect Home." I hope it's a show that gets picked up in the US or comes out on DVD.)
44 von 46 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The Happiness of Loving a Book about Architecture. 27. November 2006
Von Cipriano - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Have you ever read a book that was so good that you flip through it trying to find a representative passage that you would like to share with others, but you end up seeing that you are faced with the dilemna of re-writing the whole thing from page one because all of it is so indispensibly rich and worthy of regurgitation?

This is what is happening to me, here at Starbucks, having just finished reading Alain de Botton's The Architecture of Happiness.

Oh, such an amazing book.

Recently, I met a group of friends at [no surpirise] a Starbucks and because I arrived early, I brought my book in and read for a while. Soon they showed up and I set the book aside. My pal picked it up and read the title, flipped through it a bit, and promptly looked at me as though I had three heads, and all of them were Martian!

"What the hell are you reading this for?" he asked.

"I am totally immersed in the topic," I said. And went on to explain....

It's not about architecture, as in, how to build things. It's about the appreciation of the art that surrounds the process of all creative effort, architecture included.

The author discusses the development of so many things, from teacups to chairs to vending machines. Windows, bridges, water faucets, theatres, entire plans of cities, tables, factories, empty fields... the way we think [or don't think] about all of these things. Of course, buildings, from homes to skyscrapers, being perhaps the most prominent aesthetic consideration in our day-to-day field of vision, these get the most attention.

Why do we build as we do?

What is the history, the genesis and evolution of what we have now come to consider as architectural norms?

Architecturally speaking, in what ways have we progressed? In what ways have we regressed? Or, [most intererestingly] have we done both things?

Having defended myself thus, I looked back at my friend as though he had three heads, all of them very architecturally interesting!

I cannot help it. I must offer the following excerpt. Here, de Botton was discussing the topic of beauty in strength, or the "elegance" with which so many of our magnificent structures and machines are constructed...

"It follows from this that the impression of beauty we derive from an architectural work may be proportionally related to the intensity of the forces against which it is pitted. The emotional power of a bridge over a swollen river, for example, is concentrated at the point where the piers meet but resist the waters which rise threateningly around them. We shudder to think of sinking our own feet into such turbulent depths and venerate the bridge's reinforced concrete for the sanguine way it deflects the currents which tyrannise it. Likewise, the heavy stone walls of a lighthouse acquire the character of a forbearing and kindly giant during a spiteful gale which does its best to pant them down, just as in a plane passing through an electrical storm, we can feel something approaching love for the aeronautical engineers who, in quiet offices in Bristol or Toulouse, designed dark grey aluminum wings that could flex through tempests with all the grace of a swan's feathered ones. We feel as safe as we did when we were children being driven home in the early hours by our parents, lying curled up on the backseat under a blanket in our pyjamas, sensing the darkness and cold of the night through the window against which we rested our cheek. There is beauty in that which is stronger than we are." [p.205]

Every page of this book is magnificent like that.

Throughout, the author is critical of the non-critical acceptance of architectural norms. Especially toward the latter sections of the book he continues to remind the reader of the importance of being wary of unquestioningly adopting societal dictates, regarding architecture. He cautions [and I wildly paraphrase] that in order to appreciate architecture as we ought, we need to cultivate and maintain a similar ability to appreciate the beauty of an empty field. "We owe it to the fields," he says, "that our houses will not be inferiors of the virgin land they have replaced. We owe it to the worms and the trees that the buildings we cover them with will stand as promises of the highest and most intelligent kinds of happiness." [p.267].

Because our own culture will tend to dictate the aesthetic style we should adhere to, we ought to be diligent in expanding our horizons beyond that which we have always seen, and always known. We should beware the veneration of the regular. [? My summation].

So much of our sense of artistic appreciation is either innate or injected into our being as a result of our cultural conditioning. But there is this other thing to consider..... that it is possible to train ourselves "to appreciate a beauty that we were not born seeing. And, in the process, we will puncture the simplistic notion, heavily promoted by purveyors of plastic mansions, that what a person currently finds beautiful should be taken as the limit of all that he or she can ever love." [p.261]

To train ourselves to appreciate beauty.

Reading this book is, in itself, a great step in the direction of such an accomplisment.

46 von 49 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The Responsibility of Creation 26. Oktober 2006
Von J. Brian Watkins - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
To read De Botton is to go on a journey to places at once unexpected yet familiar; for example, one point is supported by reference to a diagram of nose shapes and sizes. His books teach rather than exposit; they do not lack for a direct thesis--they make arguments and reach conclusions. In this book on architecture the point is made that we have a responsibility to create something that is worthy of the natural surroundings that will be altered by the creation. We have the ability and resources to transcend mere engineering concerns and the argument is made in this book that we have a duty to do so.

Obviously we cannot live the modern life stuck out in a meadow, no matter how beautiful the scenery--but our author argues that is equally difficult (or pointless) to live in a community of soulless boxes, that architecture which fails to honor aesthetic ideals is a failure even if it keeps the weather out. Good architecture is the result not of adherence to classical ideals, budget measures or engineering goals but of a balance achieved among the almost infinite range of available architectural choices.

The author understands that in order to bring his reader to an appreciation for balance in architecture that he must provide a context--he has to demonstrate when things are out of balance. De Botton excels in providing just the right amount of history, pictorial evidence, contemporary example and discussion--in fact, his presentation is itself artfully balanced and perfectly suits his theme. There may be disagreements about the thesis; however, I think that the quality of the writing is worthy of any superlatives. Anyone familiar with Michael Palin's travelogues knows that they can't be missed regardless of the destination--Mr. Palin is unfailingly respectful of tradition but never misses an opportunity for a witty remark. So likewise are Mr. De Botton's books. Regardless of his chosen subject, he has earned my trust--I'll read whatever he chooses to print.

Highest Recommendation
35 von 38 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Erudite, colorful, delightful! 4. März 2006
Von Pater Ecstaticus - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
[Notabene: this is a review of the Dutch translation of this book.] I have read only one book by Alain de Botton so far, namely his eminently readable but highly imaginative and evocative 'The Art of Travel'. I was so enamoured by that particular book, that I highly anticipated his 'The Architecture of Happiness', and bought it without any doubts as what to expect (and so should anyone else who loved his 'The Art of Travel, I believe ;-)
This book is - to my eyes - a pure little gem of often seemingly simple and evident (so often a sign of greatness), but at the same time deep insights into the ways in which architecture reflects (and influences) all of our grandest - and at the same time all of our smallest - aspirations, ideas, hopes, wishes and pleasures. Reading 'The Architecture of Happiness' is ever so often (like his 'The Art of Travel') an 'Aha-Erlebnis': to your feelings and experiences, when reading his book, Alain de Botton's insights and observations could only be so, as it were :-)
For example, one of the author's most important observations comes about a quarter on the way, at the end of the second chapter. Forming the basis for the rest of his discourse, is his central statement (in fact his main conclusion) that [NB: following is my own, probably not very accurate translation from the Dutch translation!] "every designed object will give an impression of the psychological and moral standards it upholds", going on to say that "designed objects and architecture essentially tell us about the way of life that would be most appropriate in their vicinity. They tell us about the moods they would like to encourage and strengthen in their users. Except that they keep us warm and that they offer us practical support, they also stimulate us to be a certain kind of people. They speak of certain ideas of happiness." In other words, de Botton stresses the 'values' that buildings propagate, and it is his belief that discussions about 'fitting' architecture should center more around this issue of values (the ways that architecture speaks to us, stimulating and encouraging us), than about any "strictly visual aspects", making the goals of our discussions about what is 'fitting' architecture much clearer.
To understand why we love a certain architectural style more than another, we need to understand the psychology behind taste (which is based on psychological needs), thus de Botton. He furthermore stresses the need for a deeper understanding of the many different 'esthetical virtues' (a direct consequence of those psychological needs), to help us in our discussions about 'fitting' architecture.
Anyhow, in this book the author displays his enormous gift of relating - in colorful, sometimes almost poetic, prose - all kinds of economical, political, social and artistic developments to architecture, connecting them - interlaced with delightful humorous observations here and there - with philosophical thoughts and associations about the ways architecture taps into our values and emotions (what do we 'feel' or 'need' when experiencing specific forms of architecture?), thereby opening up new and delightful insights into the deep relevance and connection of architecture to ALL of us ...
Well, all of this doesn't help any would-be buyer or reader much concerning the actual 'contents' of this book from 'chapter to chapter, paragraph to paragraph', but anyhow, that would only spoil all the fun for any future reader of this delightful book. I would like to say: please, do yourself a favour and buy this book from Alain de Botton, and let him take you on an interesting, wonderful journey, a sort of 'philosophically inspired architectural travelogue', from the comforts of your own home, and enjoy it when you also enjoyed, like I did, his 'The Art of Travel'. Anyhow, you will simply be delighted and surprised!
15 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Erudite Dissertation on How Architectural Variety Yields Happiness for Someone 16. Januar 2007
Von Ed Uyeshima - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
The manifestation of personal happiness through architecture is far more than looking at a building that may be pleasing to your eye, according to erudite author and true Renaissance man Alain de Botton in his finicky but enlightening new book. Taking an approach similar to the one he takes in "The Art of Travel", he brings his idiosyncratic touches to an extensive architectural history tour encompassing all the major styles through his meticulous analysis of representative buildings. The author shows how the most public of arts reflects a sense of shared values among us. In both Roman and Renaissance times, the beauty of buildings came from a classical sense of order epitomized by symmetry and proportion. Sometime in the 18th century, however, de Botton points to a turning point when the consensus broke down into several distinctive styles that represented and ultimately polarized individual tastes. The net result is that each building has a specific message, and the ones we like the best are the ones that most reflect our own values.

The special talent that de Botton brings to his book is how he can take buildings as diverse as the Doge's Palace in Venice to a McDonald's in London and bring out human characteristics through his descriptive prose. Buildings speak to him about the desires that emanate from not only their designers but from their inhabitants as well. In fact, he states that we search for an antidote to the often harsh world we inhabit through our own personal domiciles. The author surmises that many of us who work in modern, glass-encased skyscrapers seek comfort in residences that may be marked by more traditional forms of architecture simply to escape the grind and sterility of the workplace. These contrasts are important to us, and the bottom line is that we cannot live in our current world without embracing the various styles which represent chaos and order. One style simply cannot negate another no matter how much we like one over the other since all of them provide value to somebody.

Particularly resonant to me is one key example that de Botton describes, the Huis ten Bosch theme park and residential district in Sasebo, Japan, which was built to be an exact replica of a Dutch village. The exacting detail and scale of the complex is impressive, and it speaks to a palpable desire by the Japanese populace to display accurately rendered European-style architecture within their borders. However, there is much disagreement over the beauty of such an extravagantly laid out area otherwise disconnected from its original inspiration. As de Botton clearly elucidates, people will disagree on what constitutes the best constructed environment in which to enjoy life as much as what constitutes the best life there is. Even though he can get carried away with his sometimes pedantic imagery, his book is a provocative and well-written read, as much as his treatment of intellectual wanderlust in "The Art of Travel". There is also the added benefit of a clean layout and a number of helpful photographs of the buildings referred to by the author.
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