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Advocacy on steroids

Life House by John Pawson photo by Gilbert McCarragher
Life House by John Pawson photo by Gilbert McCarragher

I’ve read most of Alain De Botton’s books starting with the Architecture of Happiness, Status Anxiety, Art as Therapy, Religion for Atheists and The News: A User’s Manual. I regularly view his websites including The Philosopher’s Mail and his twitter feeds as I find most of his musings interesting and utterly relevant. One thing that I have found with Alain; he is a fantastic advocate for good design and architecture. In one article he discussed Plato’s guides to happiness and fulfilment and the importance of beauty. He goes on to say:

“Plato proposed that it really matters what sorts of houses or temples, pots or sculptures you have around you. No one before Plato had asked the key question: why do we like beautiful things? He found a fascinating reason: we recognise in them a part of ‘the good’. There are lots of good things we aspire to be: kind, gentle, harmonious, balanced, peaceful, strong, dignified. These are qualities in people. But they are also qualities in objects. We get moved and excited when we find in objects the qualities we need but are missing in our lives.”

That Alain is a doer, there is no question. He does more than simply discuss & write about design and architecture and its value, he then goes on to create a series of buildings called Living Architecture that you can rent and experience. There are several homes on the roster where he commissioned stellar architects and artists from around the world. The image above is the music bedroom in John Pawson’s Life House. Refer to Pawson’s yacht design in a previous article here. The Living Architecture series also includes Balancing Barn by MVRDV and Secular Retreat by Peter Zumthor, which is currently in planning. High quality rural architecture is a beautiful thing and in some cases it is reserved for the wealthy but here Alain and Living Architecture allow anyone to live in these spaces and they too can see and feel the value of good design.

A few links: Living Architecture, The Book of Life, School of Life / Melbourne campus and Alain de Botton on twitter.