Within the robust arches of Henri Labrouste’s Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève in Paris, the observant visitor will notice a series of small flowers fashioned out of wrought iron. To think these elegant is to acknowledge how unusual was the care that lay behind their creation. In a busy, often heedless world, they stand as markers of patience and generosity, of a kind of sweetness and even love: a kindness without ulterior motive.
They are there for no other reason than that the architect believed they might entertain our eyes and charm our reason. They are markers of politeness, too, the impulse to go beyond what is required to discharge brute tasks – and of sacrifice as well, for it would have been easier to support the iron arches with straight-sided struts.
Below, the mood may be workmanlike and outside, in the streets, there will always be hurry and cruelty, but up on the ceiling, in a limited realm, flowers swirl and perhaps even laugh as they wend their way around a sequence of arches. — The Architecture of Happiness, Alain de Botton
Some places feel better than others. Why?
A place might be physical or non-physical. A room is a place. A street is a place. A company is a place. A website is a place.
Some places feel better in the way they appear to nurture a certain quality of beauty that is deeper than merely what they look like. It is a beauty that is felt as care. How can we reliably create environments that speak of care?
I would like to understand how such places come to be, and how they endure. I suspect I’ll return frequently to themes related, but not limited to, architecture and cities.
Eventually, I hope to arrive at generalizable principles of better places, such as the Create Streets guide to building popular places.
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