HAPPINESS IS ALL IN THE DETAILS
With reference to Alain de Botton's piece 'The Power of Architecture' (AJ 27.04.06), I have not yet read de Botton's latest book, The Architecture of Happiness, and doubt if I shall, due to its curious title. Does he not realise this will only encourage the idiocy of the average builder, for instance, to add sunbursts to the elevations, thus pleasing the ghastliness of future inhabitants?
Will that find us anywhere useful?
Several years ago I heard an excellent lecture by a creative architect on Louis Kahn's Kimbell Art Museum. His slides were only marred by the disgustingly obese frames of male and female Americans who clearly failed to understand the sheer beauty of Kahn's detailing. That aspect of a good building is little different from the way we should keep our own bodies, but if we do not care for the latter we will never really understand the former. It is all essentially simple.
Myself, I should continue to steer clear of the 'celibates' de Botton speaks of. Most of them know nothing of creative action and are, indeed, abominably barren in that respect.
Patrick Hodgkinson, Emeritus Professor of Architecture and Urbanism, University of Bath