Partly, I use [the word beauty] politically because it’s a taboo word for architects – it makes them twitchy, and I quite enjoy that. I think they are unfairly nervous about it, but it eases right in with what ordinary people look for from architecture, and it’s a nicely homespun word that hits the target. I’m also attracted to the way it’s used particularly in Christian aesthetics, and the concept that beauty is a moral entity, but far from being a superficial luxury, is connected to goodness. Generally, that it is the material manifestation of goodness, so that a beautiful object, house, painting displays many of the same qualities you find in goodness in other areas, in other things.
That seems really important and it can hit back against the postmodern idea that we don’t know what is beautiful, because people are much more able to say that we know what’s good than what’s beautiful. There’s a broad agreement about what is good: human rights, fairness, justice, community, friendship. Our society is chemically ill yet we disagree about beauty or aesthetics. So, connecting up aesthetics with beauty and then beauty with goodness seems a way out of a kind of postmodern morass, where essentially the free market ends up deciding and then you get horrific skylines, cities and developments.