• Unagru Architecture & Urbanism

The Architecture of Happiness




Over 2022 we are looking to share some design books that most resonate with us, up first is ‘The Architecture of Happiness’ by Alain de Botton which feels a perfect choice to share with our clients, colleagues and friends. This book encapsulates the philosophies and lessons that we at Unagru believe in, that we have translated into our architectural design practice.


I came across other books by de Botton, such as ‘Essays in Love’ and ‘Status Anxiety’ and his ‘School of Life’ videos on YouTube, which philosophise or perhaps even romanticise the ideals of daily endeavours, from personal relationships to worldview perspective. The revisiting of ‘The Architecture of Happiness’ was surprisingly refreshing, observing how his deep knowledge in literature, arts and philosophy translates into architecture. The key elements of his narrative? Beauty and happiness.


The main statement of this book comes into the scene later, after a general introduction of how de Botton sees and experiences architecture, where he offered his thoughts by quoting Stendhal;


‘Beauty is the promise of happiness… there are as many styles of beauty as there are visions of happiness’.

Page 98


The first three chapters of the book serve as a good introductory background for the readers to perceive the fundamentals of architecture, connecting to topics like styles, aesthetics and in general how to read a building. Personally, I thought the chapter ‘The Ideals of Home’ is a crucial one as it directly demonstrates the principles of home designs and domicile, which translate into ownership and sense of belonging. For Unagru, we believe in this for both residential and non-residential projects.


“... what we call a home is merely any place that succeeds in making more consistently available to us the important truths which the wider world ignores, or which our distracted and irresolute selves have trouble holding on to. As we write, so we build: to keep a record of what matters to us.”

Page 118


In his earlier writings, de Botton stated the human’s constant, perplexing desire and drive for happiness in relation to architecture as a reminder or pursuit in our life, particularly the role of a home in mirroring who we are. Perhaps it is fair to say; if the personalised elements such as decorations placed or the time spent by the occupants are reminders or reflection of the identities, then the architecture is the common pursuit of the user and architect to a better lifestyle where both sharing the same projection of 'styles of beauty and visions of happiness'.


Overall, I would recommend this book to all those interested in architecture and design, it is both accessible to read and, I would suggest, it can take you on a contemplative experience!


You can buy your own copy here.


Written by Gary Yeow

Edited by Nancy Hargreaves

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