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Oct 23, 2006

Many architects are wary of openly discussing the word beauty – in Alain de Botton’s book, The Architecture of Happiness, he asks the large and naïve question: What is a beautiful building? Is it too much to ask of our buildings to aspire to that which we long for in our hearts? Many architects would answer, "Yes." Rather than see architecture as an aspiration of the best of what life can be, many see architecture as reflective of the worst of what life is. If architects do not think that buildings affect society and can contribute to the happiness and well-being of those who use the buildings, then architects devalue their profession and are saying that their work has no importance. Yet if architects admit that their work can affect society and make a difference in a users life, and yet architects insist on designing buildings that are confrontational and conflicted, then architects are knowingly contributing to the decay and dysfunction of society. In a world where we are constantly told how bad things are, architecture can give us hope about how things could be better. That’s an ancient idea whose time has come again. The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton is published by Pantheon. And visit

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