April 21, 2006

IT was London’s Shepherds Bush that did it. “I used to walk past
this block of flats and wonder: ‘Who could have built that?”‘ Alain de
Botton says. “What were they thinking? What were they trying to do?”

The postwar block stars in his new book The Architecture of
Happiness, in which the philosopher turns his sights from why we’re all
so worried about our place in society (Status Anxiety) and why we go on
holiday (The Art of Travel) to architecture.


The Sydney Writers’ Festival has taken a gamble in booking the
Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House for its closing address by
Alain de Botton on May 28. A sell-out at the 2004 festival, de
Botton has a no-miss subject in his new book, The Architecture
of Happiness
, out next month. Blending philosophy with
aesthetics, he examines what makes a beautiful building and how
that can – or cannot – affect our sense of wellbeing. “Beautiful
architecture has none of the unambiguous advantages of a vaccine or
a bowl of rice,” he writes.