I read a book review in the Boston Globe about a book I’ll definitely have to add to my reading list, The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton. The book apparently explores the why of architecture.
What de Botton tries to do is figure out why there have been, and still are, so many different styles of architecture. Why do some of us like one thing — let’s say, glass-and-steel modernism — while others despise it? Why do so many Americans in 2007 wish to live in copies of the red-brick-white-trim Georgian architecture of the 18th century?
The author understands that sometimes we seek what is familiar, orderly, and predictable in the world we build, as in that Georgian house. But he also understands that sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we seek the new, the shocking, the slightly crazy.
Both reactions are fine with de Botton. He’s not interested in pushing one or the other. Instead he wants to figure out where our different tastes come from.
His answer is that every building embodies a message. It billboards a certain set of values.
Sounds like a fascinating read.
My current favorite book on architecture is How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built by Stuart Brand.
On a related note, I found a few other things of interest in the world of architecture in my perusal of the web:
- A photoset of New York City storefronts.
- A French photo website called Photography of Unexpected and Neglected Architecture.
- An article that tells how if you want to build a successful neighborhood, put a library in the middle of it.