Customer Reviews


33 Reviews
5 star:
 (15)
4 star:
 (9)
3 star:
 (6)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's underneath our ideas about architecture and design?
Alain de Botton probes deeply into our thoughts and ideas about the buildings around us with amazing clarity. He puts words to feelings you might have had in the back of your mind but ignored because you didn't know whether they could be expressed. When you read his words you feel enlightened and grateful for the experience. You go back into the world with a more refined...
Published on 11 Feb 2009 by Jennifer Sundberg

versus
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A confused, but enjoyable attempt
De Botton's book was enjoyable to read, though I never really found any resolution to the questions he posed. Sometimes, he seems to contradict himself. Throughout the beginning of the book, de Botton champions many elements of Classical architecture (in the process castigates--deservedly in my opinion--Le Courbusier's architecture and methods, pp. 54-67). Later in the...
Published on 18 July 2010 by M. Hamann


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's underneath our ideas about architecture and design?, 11 Feb 2009
By 
Jennifer Sundberg (Sweden) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Alain de Botton probes deeply into our thoughts and ideas about the buildings around us with amazing clarity. He puts words to feelings you might have had in the back of your mind but ignored because you didn't know whether they could be expressed. When you read his words you feel enlightened and grateful for the experience. You go back into the world with a more refined set of tools to process it with.
Most books on architecture are about history and appreciation of aesthetic and cultural details. His book cuts right through that layer. What we find beautiful is the promise of an intelligent kind of happiness. A home should be a setting that reminds us of our deepest, most genuine values, our concern for others and for the environment. What we search for in architecture is not so far from what we search for in a friend.
How wonderful to have these truths subtly and intricately revealed to us as a way of counteracting all the information about fashion and design, pumped into our brains on a daily basis. There are beautiful black and white photos and engravings throughout the book to illustrate his observations.
I loved this book, read it slowly and savoured it and will definitely be reading it again. If people of de Botton's calibre, with such depth, humour and insight, were running the world there would be hope for the human race.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a critic of modern architecture, 9 Jan 2010
By 
Stephen J. Mason "sjmason6074" (isle of arran, scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
An interesting read, but rather than rock any architectural boats it is firmly on the modern architects side.

I suspect the title is specifically chosen to lure in those who wonder why beauty is such an anathema to modern architecture and artists. Alain de Botton seems to be happy to fall into the modern illness of searching for difference rather than asthetics.

Each chapter one gets lifted up by some relevation of why we think the way we do about Architecture only to be flattened by the assurance that we can't have such and such in our day and age.

It is surely not the problem of architecture that it can't produce great modern edifices but that it can't produce humane structures for the everyday person without resort to pastiche or brutalism. At the heart of this is the egotism of architecture which sees it self as an artform rather than a servant to humanity.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All architecture students should read, 15 Jun 2006
By 
Andrew (Bath, England, UK) - See all my reviews
This book can be considered a well balanced guide to the major philosophical and theoretical debates which affect every architect-in-training in forming their own opinions and which have been debated over the past centuries. Everything from "what is archtitecture" downwards.

Contains just enough of each point of view to enable ideas to be formed, or to guide further research, without telling you what to think. Its a composition rather than a manifesto. Every ten pages or so there is a gem of a quote. And just as you start thinking, "but what does that mean for..." you turn the page and there it is, with quotes and references and everything you need to start making up your own mind.

If as an undergrad you're only likely to read one book on theory this year, and want to avoid becoming a specialist on [insert obscure german author your tutor wants an essay on], read this for the whole picture. Its really accessibly written too. And has pictures (good heavens!). And big margins.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


73 of 84 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Literature of Redemption, 23 April 2006
By 
P. Badham "Book Mite" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Botton has often flirted dangerously with a reputation for pretension, fortunately assuaged by his fresh combination of genuine erudition and earthy humour, plus his extraordinarily lucid written style. However, after the wonderfully fluffy 'Art of Travel', his humour deserted him with 'Status Anxiety' , a book which managed to frivolously embroider basic assumptions with faux-sophisticated connections with art and economics.

'The Architecture of Happiness' happily restores Botton's status of benign self-help guru. Still lacking in the humour of earlier works, this volume makes some genuinely profound statements on virtue and beauty as applied to our exteriors and interiors. It is still written in Botton's academic, philanthropic tone and is a real page-turner too.

Recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best but overall a very good summary of architectural ideas!!, 4 Oct 2009
By 
A Singh (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Being an architect student, i was looking to expand my knowledge on architecture and also wanted to see this from a philosopher's point of view. I found that De Botton is very knowledgeable in this subject and has a good understanding of architecture. However some chapter's were more useful than others, a very easy read and very interesting. But i read this after i read "Space and the Architect" by Herman Hertzberger, which is much more helpful to architecture students and everyone in general
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great book, shame about the pictures, 9 May 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
for fans of Alain de Botton's, this book will be just the kind of delightful stuff we've come to expect from him - intelligent, well writen stuff and ideas with which one cannot help but agree... extremely useful book even if all you'd want is to understand what beauty is, not only in houses or architecture but also in seemingly non-related areas like art, fashion, or everyday life.

however it's a great shame that all the pictures are black & white (I have the hardcover edition and I assume the paperback is the same). I don't believe the reasons for this could have been aesthetic, ie how could a painting benefit from being reproduced in black & white? so it must have been done to keep the cost down, and it shows... be prepared for serious and frustrated disappointment because the book is a lot about those particular paintings and works of art

otherwise it would have gotten a whole hearted 5 stars from me, great book from a great writer & thinker
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish I'd read it earlier, 14 Aug 2011
By 
This is a beautifully written, erudite exploration of architecture in its broadest sense. As a 67 year old architect I wish I had been able to read it 40 years ago!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A confused, but enjoyable attempt, 18 July 2010
By 
M. Hamann "Markus" (Finland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
De Botton's book was enjoyable to read, though I never really found any resolution to the questions he posed. Sometimes, he seems to contradict himself. Throughout the beginning of the book, de Botton champions many elements of Classical architecture (in the process castigates--deservedly in my opinion--Le Courbusier's architecture and methods, pp. 54-67). Later in the book, de Botton tells the reader what structures are "successful": terribly modern edifices are praised which seems counter-intuitive based on the first half of the book. On p. 199, "Like Kahn's Yale Center, Herzog and de Meuron's house achieves its effect by weaving a pattern of beauty from two aesthetic strands-meaning, also, two varieties of happiness..." He tells us that we admire bridges as "a certain kind of beauty is bound up with our admiration for strength, for man-made objects which can withstand the life-destroying forces of heat, cold, gravity or wind...we see beauty in sea defences that shrug off the waves which batter them, and in bolts, rivets, cables, beams and buttresses...(p. 204).

De Botton's work was interesting until p. 166 when he writes about psychological mechanisms and our appreciation of architecture. The train quickly derails and many untenable claims are made. I expected a bit more from a trained philosopher (he holds a Master's Degree in Philosophy, as I understand). I wonder why de Botton decided to confront this topic with a superficial knowledge of architecture; he relies on meandering philosophical arguments to explain what beauty is (though the arguments are wholly unconvincing and certainly not logical). Most of the claims are based on appeals to the reader's emotions. The book is 267 pages of text, much of which is simple prose (though entertaining at times).

Overall the effort is interesting at best, dilettantish at worst.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A verbal treat, byut not a serious contribution to the subject matter, 19 Mar 2011
By 
I enjoyed this rather more than other AdB's that I've read recently. He has a lovely way with words, and he's good at both quoting aphorisms and making them up. This is not a serious study of architecture or of town planning, both of which it dips into. If you really want to know about either, read something else. It's not even a great introduction, because it doesn't point towards more substantial works - it's a bit like watching a TV programme. If you just want a nodding acquaintance with some of the issues, and the chance to feel that you have engaged with the question of aesthetics, then this is the book for you.

But I have to add one special mention; I really loved the redefinition of gossip as 'vernacular ethical philosophy'. I'll use that in future.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The author reflects on architecture, 13 Jan 2008
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
We may feel joy at the architectural perfection we see before us and at the same time melancholy at an awareness of how seldom we are sufficiently blessed to encounter anything of its kind. And sadness is conducive to receptivity: our downhearted moments provide architecture and art with their best openings because it is at such times that our hunger for their ideal qualities is at its height.
Such thoughts and many other are contained in this study of architecture and make for a valuable and interesting read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Architecture of Happiness
£5.03
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews