Alain de Botton

is one of my favorite writers. An excerpt from his book, The Architecture of Happiness

“The failure of architects to create congenial environments mirrors our inability to find happiness in other areas of our lives. Bad architecture is in the end as much a failure of psychology as of design. It is an example expressed through materials of the same tendency which in other domains will lead us to marry the wrong people, choose inappropriate jobs and book unsuccessful holidays: the tendency not to understand who we are and what will satisfy us.

“In architecture, as in so much else, we cast around for explanations to our troubles and fix on platitudinous targets. We get angry when we should realize we are sad and tear down ancient streets when we ought instead to introduce proper sanitation and street lights. We learn the wrong lessons from our griefs while grasping in vain for the origins of contentment.

“The places we call beautiful are, by contrast, the work of those rare architects with the humility to interrogate themselves adequately about their desires and the tenacity to translate their fleeting apprehensions of joy into logical plans — a combination that enables them to create environments that satisfy needs we never consciously knew we even had.”


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