Discussion Notes for Friday AM Discussion Group | (the A.M.s)


February 5, 2021


..it means acknowledging that buildings are able to solve no more than a fraction of our dissatisfactions or prevent evil from unfolding under their watch. Architecture, even at its most accomplished, will only ever constitute a small, and imperfect (expensive, prone to destruction and morally unreliable), protest against the state of things. More awkwardly still, architecture asks us to imagine that happiness might often have an unostentatious, unheroic character to it…


What is a beautiful building?       p25

Questions: Do you think there is a moral message/demand in physical spaces? Do you think physical things are morally good, bad, or neutral? Do you think color, structure, design have an impact on our character? Defend your answers.


But if we accept the legitimacy of the subject nevertheless, then a new and contentious series of questions at once opens up. We have to confront the vexed point on which so much of the history of architecture pivots. We have to ask what exactly a beautiful building might look like. Ludwig Wittgenstein, having abandoned academia for three years in order to construct a house for his sister Gretl in Vienna, understood that magnitude of the challenge. “You think philosophy is difficult,” observed the author of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, ‘but I tell you, it is nothing compared to the difficulty of being a good architect.”      pp25-26

A rose is a rose is a rose.

Gertrude Stein, “Sacred Emily” (1913)

Questions: What do you think Wittgenstein meant? Which is more valuable the space made from the idea/value, or the idea/value? Defend your answer. Before we accept the “legitimacy” of architecture as de Botton asks, what questions would you need answered?

**All content unless otherwise noted from The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton . Content for this discussion compiled by Kirk Irwin