Monday, October 18, 2010

Alain de Botton On Architecture

From The Architecture of Happiness:
Taking architecture seriously therefore makes some singular and strenuous demands upon us. It requires that we open ourselves to the idea that we are affected by our surroundings even when they are made of vinyl and would be expensive and time-consuming to ameliorate. It means conceding that we are inconveniently vulnerable to the colour of our wallpaper and that our sense of purpose may be derail by an unfortunate bedspread. At the same time, it means acknowledging that buildings are able to solve no more than a fraction of our dissatisfactions or prevent evil from unfolding under their watch. Architecture, even at its most accomplished, will only ever constitute a small, and imperfect (expensive, prone to destruction and morally unreliable), protest against the state of thing. More awkwardly still, architecture asks us to imagine that happiness might often have an unostentatious, unheroic character to it, that it might be found in a run of old floorboards or in a wash of morning light over a plaster wall - in undramatic, frangible scenes of beauty that move us because we are aware of the darker backdrop against which they are set.
I've always been fascinated by small changes in our environment and the effects of those changes on our moods, like the way the sun's light shines in different cities or the effect of taller ceilings on our thinking.

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