"Building Happiness: Architecure to Make You Smile is much more skeptical of architecture's ability to make us happy than last year's widely-read book on the same subject, Alain de Botton's The Architecture of Happiness.
That's because while de Botton waxes poetic, the contributors to Building Happiness look to the empirical record-which, apparently, just doesn't show a strong link between architectural aesthetics and happiness. It's a difficult pill to swallow. As Jeremy Till, dean of architecture at the University of Westminster, says, "The association of beauty with happiness is one of those platitudes that have been passed unthinkingly from one architectural generation to another," and it's easy to see why. The idea that we can shape our psyches by shaping our buildings seems both comforting and intuitive."