The Architecture of Happiness

Kevin Gill in Entertainment Today
8 March 2007
As I write this review, I am house-sitting for a friend in a suburb-to-remain-unnamed. Despite the house’s possession of sturdy walls, a sound roof, and a seven-figure price tag, I am left feeling unsheltered. More →

Alison Lurie in the New York Review of Books, 15 March 2007
15 March 2007
Today we expect nonfiction to be either comic or somber: to make us laugh, or to inform us, warn us, or terrify us with accounts of miserable childhoods or natural and political disasters. The idea that prose might be both casual in manner and serious in intent is almost forgotten. More →

Robert Campbell in the Boston Globe
14 January 2007

It’s rare that you can recommend to the general reader a book about architecture. Too many books on that topic are clotted attempts at philosophy that read as if they’d been mistranslated from the German. More →

The New Yorker
4 December 2006

Determined to avoid the “two great dogmas of aesthetics”—that there is only one valid visual style, and that all styles are equally acceptable—de Botton explores how particular works of architecture succeed, by offering “more or less adequate responses to our genuine psychological needs.” More →

John Massengale in the Wall Street Journal
18 November 2006

Close to halfway through “The Architecture of Happiness,” populist philosophe Alain de Botton finally gets to his central point, when he quotes Stendahl: “Beauty is the promise of happiness.” More →

Maria Cook in the Ottawa Citizen
29 October 2006

As I write this review, I am sitting in a living room lined with windows. Afternoon light spills onto the gleaming hardwood and plays on the white walls. More →

Henry Petroski in the New York Sun
27 March 2009

Alain de Botton’s “The Architecture of Happiness” is an unusual book for one about architecture. It is not coffeetable size, but it is full of big ideas. More →

Michael Dirda in the Washington Post
15 October 2006

While happily reading Alain de Botton’s graceful musings about architectural beauty, I was suddenly struck by the photograph of the Edgar J. Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, Calif., designed by Richard Neutra in 1946. More →

Matthew Price in the Los Angeles Times
8 October 2006

Alain de Botton is a clever writer. His ambition, it seems, is to get himself into every section of your local bookstore, and he’s succeeding. More →

Scott Timberg in the Los Angeles Times
11 October 2006

Alain de Botton writes books that bring a kind of elegant, playful common sense to forbidding subjects. “The starting point is always some kind of personal interest,” he says from his house in London. “And then I try to keep my calm as I approach topics that are jealously guarded by experts.”
More →

Lisa Gray in the Houston Chronicle
8 October 2006

Can a building make you happy? I’m susceptible to magazines that promise it’s true: that the right house, equipped with the right furniture, will propel me to a level of serenity and joy previously experienced only by Martha Stewart and Oprah. More →

Michael Upchurch in the Seattle Times
6 October 2006

But what does he mean by “The Architecture of Happiness”? Psychological architecture? Physical architecture? Are we in the realm of self-help here, or interior design? All of the above, it turns out. More →

Ethan Gilsdorf in the San Francisco Chronicle
2 October 2006
Something is wrong with the building. Perhaps it’s the vinyl siding. What the homeowner chose to cover up 25 years ago, wooden clapboards sheathed and sightless underneath, and forgotten, is worrisome. More →

Ethan Gilsdorf in the San Francisco Chronicle
2 October 2006
Something is wrong with the building. Perhaps it’s the vinyl siding. What the homeowner chose to cover up 25 years ago, wooden clapboards sheathed and sightless underneath, and forgotten, is worrisome. More →

Karen Long in the Cleveland Plain Dealer
24 September 2006
A few days ago, I stepped through my back door and noticed the way a dark portion of my neighbor’s roof accidentally — and pleasurably — set off a pine bench angled into a corner of our back yard. More →

Nora Young in the Toronto Star
24 September 2006
I’m hooked on architecture and design. I’ll thumb through glossy magazines featuring vintage Eames chairs, cliffside cottages overlooking private beaches, Victorian houses re-corseted to the uncomfortable constraints of minimalism. More →

Katherine Ashenburg in the Globe and Mail
23 September 2006
Alain de Botton only takes on the biggest subjects. Still in his 30s, the Swiss-born author has written eight books on such topics as love, romance, status, the consolations of philosophy and how literature (in his case, Proust) can change your life. More →

Kirkus Reviews
1 August 2006
In what may be the only contemporary volume on architecture that doesn’t discuss Frank Lloyd Wright, de Botton sticks to the basics. He deals with questions of style, ideas of beauty, notions about why certain structures appeal to us. More →

Kelvin Browne in National Post, Canada
27 July 2006
If you believe that caring about the places you live in, or how you inhabit them (a.k.a. decorating), is a frivolous concern and that profound people don’t talk about such things, The Architecture of Happiness is for you. More →

Andrew Rutherford in the Australian
13 May 2006
Perhaps the most famous modern intersection between architecture and philosophy is the austere house Ludwig Wittgenstein spent three years constructing for his sister. I once asked directions of a grand red-headed dame at Vienna’s tourism office to the Wittgenstein house, to be met with the question, “Are you an architect or a philosophe?” More →

Charles Saumarez Smith in the Observer
7 May 2006
De Botton starts with a dithyramb to the pleasures of a west London suburban house, his own, one suspects. It is all about the accidental pleasures of sunlight and silence, the associations of family life and the recollections of those who might have lived in the house before; not about the experience of architecture, one might think. More →

Hugh Pearman in the Sunday Times
23 April 2006
Do buildings talk to us? Can they communicate something directly to our psyches? If so, and if we can learn that language, then how come there is so much awful architecture around us? More →

Tom Dyckhoff in the Times
19 April 2006
It was Shepherds Bush that did it. “I used to walk past this block of flats,” says Alain de Botton, “and wonder who could have built that? What were they thinking? What were they trying to do?” More →

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