Lecture date: 2003-01-23
Alain de Botton, author of The Art of Travel, addresses such topics as airports, exotic carpets, holiday romance and hotel minibars, while referencing the beauty of spaces and architecture and suggesting how we can learn to be happier on our journeys.
Mohsen Mostafavi introduces Alain de Botton.
It’s a great pleasure to welcome Alain De Botton to the AA. Alain's talk tonight is in conjunction with and exhibition that we have upstairs and the exhibition relates to a travel scholarship that exists under the name of Peter Sabara. Peter Sabara was a wonderful student here many years ago he died when he was very young and he used to teach here and at Royal Collage and his family then set up this travel fellowship which is given every year between the students of the AA and the students of the RCA. And this year the winners have been Jonathan Nicos and Joseph Prima [inaudible], two students in the diploma school at the AA. Normally when we have the Peter Sabara travel fellowships people submit proposals that are very, very complex, very detailed.
For example the last one was a fantastic kind of exploration along the silk route. And the idea of actual route became such a critical part of it Jonathan and Joseph went completely the opposite way by trying not to have a very clear destination and letting themselves be open to the possibility of discovering places so the photographs upstairs document this. I think if you haven’t seen them I would really urge you to have a look at them because they’re great. And after seeing the photographs and the proposal I think it dawned to Vanessa Norwood, who coordinates exhibitions here, that in fact Alain was the person who had also written very eloquently on this topic and in fact Joseph and Jonathan were not the first people to come up with the idea of not having a destination.
But I think that then set up this ability of this conversation between their photographs and Alains work on travel. Alain de Botton has been really one of the most influential figures in contemporary literature especially in the last 5-10 years where The Consolations of Philosophy which has probably played a very significant role in bringing philosophy to a much wider audience than it has been historically. And of course his more recent The Art of Travel has received enormous attention he has recently finished a book entitle Status Anxiety which is on social hierarchy in the west and is working on a book on interiors which I think would be of great relevance to a lot of us, so without further delay please welcome Alain De Botton.
[Inaudible] I much enjoyed looking at the exhibition upstairs if any of you haven’t seen it it really is well worth seeing almost uncanny in the way that it’s picked up on things that I was interested in already so it just shows that where all roughly thinking the same things. Tonight I want to talk about travel but I wrote this book called the Art of travel but really it’s not about travel because travel doesn’t really interest me what interests me is places and when I was writing this book, I always thought to myself my secret ideology was that this really was a book just about places and their power and their effect on us and the word travel was simply a good hold-all in which to contain all of these ideas, that I didn’t really know where they belonged and then just though of sticking the word travel on the jacket which got me into a lot of trouble with certain reviewers who kept saying where’s the bit about your year off when you go travelling and where’s the bit about losing your luggage etc , it really it’s a very selective journey through travel and the emphasis and I’m saying this to you because of where we are tonight is really on places and power of places and the emotions that we can have in certain places and it did seem to me when writing this book that this is sort of an area of life which doesn’t really quite have a genre it’s a little bit travel it could be architecture or landscape writing I don’t know what it is so a weird book. And The art of Travel was designed really to be a chance really for me to think about that and pin down some of my thoughts I should probably say that before writing this book a few years ago I wrote a book called how Proust can change your life although when the book was originally written it was called how Proust will change your life. And then I remember sending the book to my American editor and he read it and then a few days later he said we will publish the book but we do insist that you change the title because our in house lawyer has read the book and in certain American states you can be sued if you make a promise that isn’t then fulfilled so better change it to how Proust can change your life.
Mohsen Mostafavi and Charles Waldheim
Peter Galison, Harvard University
Christophe Girot, ETH Zürich
"Wild Planes and Airelds: An Allegory of 21st - Century Landscape"
Charles Waldheim and Sonja Dümpelmann
Adriaan Geuze, West 8
"Counteracting Stress Scape"
Mary Margaret Jones, Hargreaves Associates
"Two Decades of Airport Transformations"
moderated by Elizabeth Meyer, University of Virginia
Anita Berrizbeitia, Harvard GSD
Felipe Correa, Harvard GSD
Christophe Girot, ETH Zürich
Eelco Hooman, GROSS.MAX.
Mary Margaret Jones, Hargreaves Associates
Chris Reed, Harvard GSD
moderated by Edward Eigen, Harvard GSD
Nathalie Roseau, University Paris East, École des Ponts ParisTech
"The Airport as Urban Artifact: The Ecology of the Frontier"
Dominick Pisano, National Air and Space Museum
"The Lehigh Airports Competition of 1930: What the Judges Missed"
Anke Ortlepp, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
"Symbols of a New Age?: American Airports and the Limits of Mobility"
Peter Adey, Royal Holloway, University of London
Ken Smith, Workshop: Ken Smith Landscape Architect
"Structure and Scale in the Reuse of Airport Space: Orange County Great Park Case Study"
moderated by Diane Davis, Harvard GSD
Antoine Picon, Harvard GSD
"Airport Infrastructure: From Flows to Events"
Richard de Neufville, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"The Future of Airport Passenger Buildings: Towards Flexible Facilities and Landscapes"
Markus Hesse, University of Luxembourg
"The Mental Infrastructures of Airport-Urban Development"
Christopher Hight, Rice University
"Zone d'attente: The Airport's Biopolitical Infrastructures"
Henri Bava, Agence Ter
"Re-Negotiating Airport Territories"
Airport designer Paul Andreu of Paul Andreu Architecte (Paris) will present his work on airports over many decades. Alastair Gordon, architecture critic for the Wall Street Journal and author of Naked Airport, will respond and engage Andreu in conversation. Introduced and moderated by Charles Waldheim, John E. Irving Professor of Landscape Architecture and Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture.
Paul Andreu was born in France and is a graduate of two of France's most prestigious engineering schools, l'Ecole Polytechnique and les Ponts et Chaussées. He obtained his certificate as a chartered architect (DPLG) at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris in 1968. In collaboration with ADP, Paul Andreu has directed studies in more than 50 countries including Charles de Gaulle airport, Jakarta, Dar es Salaam, Cairo, Brunei, Nice Côte d'Azur, Bordeaux, Pointe à Pitre and Shanghai-Pudong, among others. Alastair Gordon is an award-winning critic and author who has written about the built environment for many publications including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He has published several critically acclaimed books including Naked Airport, and is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Miami Beach Urban Studios (FIU) and the architecture critic for the Miami Herald. Gordon is the co-founder of Gordon de Vries Studio, an imprint that publishes books about the human environment.
moderated by Pierre Bélanger, Harvard GSD
Susanne Bauer, Goethe University Frankfurt/ Nils Güttler,
University of Erfurt/ Martina Schlünder, University of Toronto
"Interstitial Landscapes: Regimes of Control and the Production of Hybrid Ecologies at Frankfurt Airport"
Steven Barrett, Massachusetts Institute of Technology "Air Quality: From Airports to the Global Atmosphere"
Suleiman Osman, George Washington University "The Anti-Airport Landscape: Local Protest Against Airports in the 1960s and 1970s"
Nina-Marie Lister, Ryerson University "Aireld Ecologies: New Hybrid Landscapes from Management to Conversion"
Eelco Hooman, GROSS.MAX. "Tempelhofer Freiheit: A Prairie for the Contemporary Urban Cowboy"