"News"week and Victoria's Secret
Ash Wednesday

Architecture's effect

Architectureofhappiness From The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton (p. 17):

Architecture is perplexing, too, in how inconsistent is its capacity to generate the happiness on which its claim to our attention is founded.  While an attractive building may on occasion flatter an ascending mood, there will be times when the most congenial of locations will be unable to dislodge our sadness or misanthropy.

We can feel anxious and envious even though the floor we're standing on has been imported from a remote quarry, and finely sculpted window frames have been painted a soothing grey.  Our inner metronome can be unimpressed by the efforts of workmen to create a fountain or nurture a symmetrical line of oak trees.  We can fall into a petty argument which ends in threats of divorce in a building by Geoffrey Bawa or Luis Kahn.  Houses can invite us to join them in a mood which we find ourselves incapable of summoning.  The noblest architecture can sometimes do less for us than a siesta or an aspirin.

Those who have made architectural beauty their life's work know only too well how futile their efforts can prove.  After an exhaustive study of the buildings of  Venice, in moment of depressive lucidity, John Ruskin acknowledged that few Venetians in fact seemed elevated by their city, perhaps the most beautiful urban tapestry in the world.  Stmarksvenice Alongside St. Mark's Church (described by Ruskin in The Stones of Venice as "a Book of Common Prayer, a vast illuminated missal, bound with alabaster instead of parchment studded with porphyry pillars instead of jewels, and written within and without in letters of enamel and gold"), they sat in cafes, read the papers, sunbathed, bickered and stole from one another as, high on the church's roof, unobserved, 'the images of Christ and His angels looked down upon them.'



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