Alain de Botton

ISABEL COCKAYNE The Athenaeum, Bury St Edmunds (Bury Festival)


The Athenaeum, Bury St Edmunds (Bury Festival)

How often do you really look at buildings? And how do you feel about them?

The title of his sixth book, The Architecture of Happiness, was the subject of Alain de Botton's lecture on Saturday, sponsored by the Bury Society, which itself is in the game of challenging aesthetics and the changing town scape.

It was apt that de Botton stood in the beautiful Athenaeum for his talk.

He spoke about how we like buildings to be defined by function and therefore form should follow function, so buildings should give off the right atmosphere. For example a library should give off a certain “librarish” feel.

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When we look at buildings, he said, we decide on whether or not we like them based on our vision of life.

He likes a minimalist approach, because his life is so cluttered, for example.

His thought-provoking lecture dipped into new developments. He challenged architects to think more carefully about how they draw up the new homes, in which we live, in order to make them look better, to enhance our environment rather than make us focus on what we may have lost in their development.

De Botton is a master at explaining complex ideas about how humans view the world and why things, such as architecture, can make a huge difference to our lives.

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