‘The Architecture of Happiness’, by Alain de Botton (new Vintage paperback edition, 2008), is a stylish exploration—by a non-specialist—of how architecture enables or disables our happiness. Botton provides lyrical descriptions of the different ways in which we relate to the spaces around us. He suggests that architecture sometimes reflects our cherished values and at other times offers compensation for what we may ourselves lack emotionally. At the same time, he notes that for all our hopes from creative work, it may not improve us too successfully: Great works of art, after all, hung in the offices of the Nazis.
Want to paint your house or building white on the outside, but worried about the ominous black streaks on buildings all around? Relax. The streaking (or all-over layer) is a fungus that grows on dirt washed down from the tops of parapet walls by the rain. Just ensure that all your parapet walls are capped with a coping stone—cheap stone such as kadappa will do—that is sloped in towards the terrace so the dirt does not smear the walls and host the black fungus. White walls will remain white.
Pergola, a hint of a roof over an open sit-out, is usually, but not necessarily, made of wooden beams without a roof sheet above. Pergolas provide a notional envelope and also cast dramatic shadows on the ground as well as on the building walls. While beautiful when handled right, they should be used sensibly: in a rainy climate, the wood (or steel) is likely to deteriorate very quickly.