Modern architects have often been really bad at creating cosiness. Cosiness is one of the most essential of virtues in houses and yet so often, modern architects fear it as a one-way road to kitsch, which it doesn’t have to be.Oh yes; it is Alain de Botton again, this time on the NZBC (I know, I should have posted this ages ago; I forgot; sorry). What I want to know of M. de Botton is why he should think that it is only the Moderns who failed to create cosiness in their architecture. Was there any time in the history of architecture when cosiness was considered to be an essential virtue, save perhaps the inglenook-infested Arts and Crafts movement? Could the works of Brunelleschi, Palladio, Vanburgh, Hawksmoor, Adam (Robert and James) or any of the Wyatts be considered in any sense snug? I think not.
M. de Botton's great achievement in the philosophy of architecture (about which I have previously written ) is to mangle philosophy and to ignore architecture. Instead he muses on the homely virtues, those found in the houses his readers aspire to own. It is all about how worn brick courtyards will make you happy. Many people think he is the cat's whiskers, so far as the theory of architecture is concerned. In part this is because the theorists of architecture are obscure and unintelligible, but mostly it is because people want their homes to make them happy. M. de Botton is clever and seems nice. He is a philosopher, or so it is claimed. He offers people the possibility of happiness. So they buy his books, which doubtless makes him happy.
What's more, he likes our houses, with their indoor-outdoor flow and proximity to Nature. This makes us happy, because we like it when people from Overseas say nice things about us. If only M. de Botton knew how uncosy our houses are in winter.