"One must be present in order to discover beauty in unexpected places"
- Ross, 2012
Ross Langdon died alongside his partner Elif Yavuz, at the Nairobi Westgate Shopping Mall attack on 21 September 2013. They were in Nairobi waiting for the birth of their baby girl, due in two weeks.
Ross was born on the 31/10/1980 in the Mater hospital in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He spent his early childhood on the Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania where he attended primary school at Nubeena. Most of his Peninsula years were living in the lush eucalyptus forest of the Koonya valley where he enjoyed the freedom of walking tracks, paddocks and a crystal clear creek tumbling through cool embankments of Blackwood trees, Wattles and Mountain Lilacs casting their white flowers into the flow.
Ross moved to Hobart with his mother, brothers Craig and Anthony and sisters Amy and Abigail to complete his high school years. He went on to study Environmental Design at the University of Tasmania before completing his Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Sydney, where he graduated in 2004 with first class honours and the University Medal.
Ross had traveled extensively and worked for a variety of established and well-known architects, including; Sam Marshall, Drew Heath in Australia, Zaha Hadid, John McAslan and David Adjaye in England and numerous collaborations in Europe. Ross has been the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships including a British Council Scholarship that enabled him to travel to England to pursue his career and a University of Sydney Young Alumni Award.
Ross had worked extensively in East Africa from 2010 until his untimely death on 21 September 2013 along with his partner Elif Yavuz and their baby girl. A Harvard graduate, Elif had completed her PhD research on malaria in Eastern Africa and was working at the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Tanzania. Ross had been based across Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. He was working on projects ranging from low budget school renovations, eco tourism ventures, community development initiatives and residential homes.
Ross had focused his buildings on unconventional sustainable design solutions, with a focus on developing new models for ecologically and socially sustainable development in environmentally sensitive locations.
His range of experience was extensive, from urban planning, remote locations, eco-tourism, institutional and residential architecture, interiors, research, teaching and speculative proposals. Ross had provided a depth of expertise in dealing with the multiple scales of architecture and design that was inspirational to a large audience and he had gained the respect within his profession for his enthusiastic engagement and infectious energy.
Ross recognised collaboration as an essential criteria for innovation, as both a strategy of organisation in the creative process, but also with clients, consultants and the broader community where projects are based; collaboration was viewed as essential for the delivery of successful projects and he had developed relationships with a diverse community of like minded professionals within the building and design industry throughout Australia, Africa and Europe as well as America. He was acutely aware of the need to integrate local knowledge and skills for each site he worked on, developing local relationships was crucial to his ethos.
With impetus on the local rather than the universal, Ross produced site specific design solutions which draw on the diversity of traditional materials and construction technologies inherent in a given site. Ross’ architecture was in response to a unique research process undertaken for each and every project. This ensured results that are suited to the existing context, environment and most importantly the end users.
Ross was based in Tanzania at the time of his death and working on projects in Uganda and Rwanda with the design, construction and renovation of a number of schools, eco tourism ventures, a health and HIV education centre, a yacht club and dive centre, community training centre, a health spa next to the River Nile and residential works many of them being pro-bono work.
Their absence fills the world.
Ross and Elif
Ross took this photo as the morning sun heated the rising mist that fell in the valley overnight. The volcano is on the border of Uganda and Rwanda.