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Alain De Botton: The Latest Architecture and News

Cynical Optimism Links the Homes of Alain de Botton's Living Architecture Series

09:30 - 13 November, 2018
Dune House / JVA. Image © Nils Petter Dale
Dune House / JVA. Image © Nils Petter Dale

Alain de Botton’s Living Architecture project - a joyful, democratically-minded concept to share quality architecture in the UK - was borne out of personal crisis. The Swiss-born philosopher and author gained fame in both popular and architectural circles following the release of his book, "The Architecture of Happiness."

The book was immediately successful (movie buffs may recall its brief cameo in the 2009 film 500 Days of Summer), but the response unsettled Botton. “...However pleasing it is two write a book about an issue one feels passionately about," he explained to Assemble Papers, "the truth is that - a few exceptions aside - books don’t change anything. I realized that if I cared so much about architecture, writing was a coward’s way out; the real challenge was to build.”

© Edmund Sumner. ImageBalancing Barn / MVRDV Life House / John Pawson . Image © Gilbert McCarragher A House for Essex / FAT & Grayson Perry. Image © Gilbert McCarragher Secular Retreat / Peter Zumthor. Image Courtesy of Peter Zumthor, Living Architecture + 31

Video: A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineer in the Mongolian City of Ulaanbaatar

04:00 - 11 January, 2016

A new short film, made by Jeremy Riggall for Alain de Botton's School of Life, gives insight into the working day of Tamiraa – a Civil Engineer working in Mongolia's burgeoning capital city of Ulaanbaatar. Aside from following Tamiraa's daily responsibilities, the film also touches upon issues related to working in a rapidly growing city with an urgent demand for better educational and healthcare provision, alongside new housing and its supporting infrastructure.

Alain de Botton: "London is Becoming a Bad Version of Dubai"

04:00 - 21 July, 2015

"London is on the verge of being ruined for all future generations," says Alain de Botton – a Swiss philosopher, notable author and founder of The School of Life and Living Architecture. "With a whopping 260 towers in the pipeline no area is safe, as planners, property developers and the mayor's office commit crimes against beauty to create fun buildings." In a film for The Guardian De Botton explains why he believes we're right to be nervous – and how we can stop this "clear desecration" of the UK's capital city.

Grayson Perry On 'A House For Essex' And His Collaboration With FAT

05:00 - 12 May, 2015
Grayson Perry On 'A House For Essex' And His Collaboration With FAT, Grayson Perry's preliminary sketch for A House For Essex (2012). Image © Grayson Perry (courtesy Victoria Miro, London)
Grayson Perry's preliminary sketch for A House For Essex (2012). Image © Grayson Perry (courtesy Victoria Miro, London)

In an article for The Guardian, Turner Prize winning ceramic artist Grayson Perry has written for the first time about his "plans for a Taj Mahal in Essex." The designs for the House for Essex, which have been realised over the last three years by FAT and led by Charles Holland, are of a "secular chapel" in the heart of the southern English countryside. The building was commissioned by the Living Architecture Project, which is headed by Alain de Botton and are the proprietors of property designed by the likes of Peter Zumthor, MVRDV, and David Kohn. This, their fifth foray into experimental collaborative architecture between architects and artists, is set to open its doors for holiday letting this year.

What Makes An Attractive City? Try These 6 Points.

16:30 - 3 March, 2015

Challenging the notion that beauty is subjective, Alain de Botton has made a case for attractive cities, believing that a city’s beauty is key to its success and citizens' quality of life. The Swiss philosopher, author and founder of London's The School of Life believes that attractiveness is the primary reason why many choose to vacation to Paris, and not Frankfurt.

"We think beauty is subjective, and so no one should say anything about it," says Botton. "It's a very understandable qualm, but it's also horribly useful to greedy property developers.”

So, what makes a city attractive? Find out Botton’s six points for beautiful cities, after the break. 

Galvanizing a Legacy: FAT's Final Built Work is Unveiled

01:00 - 11 August, 2014
Galvanizing a Legacy: FAT's Final Built Work is Unveiled, © Dave King / Channel 4 Television
© Dave King / Channel 4 Television

The scaffolding has come down, revealing the first glimpse of FAT's extraordinary A House For Essex. Designed in collaboration with British ceramic artist Grayson Perry and commissioned by Alain de Botton’s alternative holiday rental project Living Architecture, the house will be the final built work that FAT complete. The bejewelled two bedroom dwelling, topped with a shimmering golden copper alloy roof and clad in glinting green and white tiles, sits in the rolling landscape of Essex - Charles Holland (FAT) and Perry’s home county. Adorned with sculptures integrated into a wider narrative that spatially recounts the life of a fictional character called Julie, the barn-like shape, bold colours and decoration has not simply garnered widespread attention but has also captured people’s curiosity.

Find out more about the project in an interview with the architect after the break.

Sculptures by Grayson Perry. Image © FAT/ Living Architecture Section. Image © FAT/ Living Architecture Under Construction (August 2014). Image © Dave King / Channel 4 Television Aerial View. Image © FAT/ Living Architecture + 15

Shelf Life: 33 Book Recommendations From Architects & Designers

01:00 - 4 August, 2014
Shelf Life: 33 Book Recommendations From Architects & Designers, Three Love Problems from George Eliot's Middlemarch, by Stephen Doyle. ​Photo: Stephen Doyle
Three Love Problems from George Eliot's Middlemarch, by Stephen Doyle. ​Photo: Stephen Doyle

Architects often don’t make time to read. Students and professionals alike will admit that the unread books on their shelves outnumber the ones they've read - which is unfortunate because literary contributions to the field of architecture, from Vitruvius to Le Corbusier, have shaped the way we build and use buildings for centuries. With this in mind, ArchitectureBoston polled their readers, asking them to share their favorite architecture and design titles, to compile a list of important architecture books you should set aside some time for. The list covers a wide range of subjects, from historical theory to the practicalities of starting a firm. See all thirty-three titles, after the break.