A prize-winning British-Australian architect and his pregnant partner were shot dead side by side in the Nairobi shopping mall massacre weeks before she was due to give birth.
Architect Ross Langdon and his partner, Elif Yavuz Photo: Windgrove: Life on the Edge blog/AAP
By Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney
7:45AM BST 23 Sep 2013
Ross Langdon, 33, and Elif Yavuz, a Harvard-educated Dutchwoman, were killed as they stood in a café in the Westgate shopping centre in the Kenyan capital. He was believed to be one of four confirmed British casualties.
The couple were based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and had travelled to Nairobi to take advantage of its better health care. Friends said the parents-to-be were “so happy” and in love, and had dedicated their lives to helping to create a peaceful world.
Born and brought up in south-eastern Tasmania, Mr Langdon had worked in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa. In Kenya he had designed an HIV-Aids hospital without charging a fee. He was a founding director of Regional Associates, an architects’ firm with offices in London and Melbourne.
The couple met in Kampala, Uganda, where Miss Yavuz, a specialist in malaria with a doctorate, was working for the World Bank.
Peter Adams, an environmental writer from Tasmania who had been friends with Mr Langdon for many years, said he had done “wondrous things” as an architect and praised his “very generous, positive, and loving personality”.
He wrote on his blog: “There just was no dark side to Ross that I ever saw in the 20 or so years I knew him?… Both [he and Miss Yavuz] had dedicated their lives to working for a peaceful world. Both had so much to offer.” He said that his friend had been about to start work on a £22?million museum centred around the earliest fossil record of walking humanoids, two adults and a child. Mr Langdon would “talk to anybody”, Mr Adams told the Brisbane Times, and suggested that he might have tried to talk to the gunmen.
The architect studied in the Tasmanian city of Launceston, then lived in Sydney from 2001. He received the university medal there and won its Young Alumni Award in 2010 for his work across Australia, Europe and Africa. Among schemes he designed were an opera house in Denmark and an eco-village in Uganda which used only local labour.
Before starting Regional Associates, he co-founded Langdon Reis Architects in London in 2008. With Ana Reis, he worked on large urban projects in Europe, and in 2010 won the European 10 young architects award.
He had spent most of the past four years in Africa, broken up by spells in London. Juliet McKoen, 58, his former landlady in Shoreditch, said: “He was a good guy, a really nice guy with a vision and a sense of freedom. He was committed to his work. It’s a horrible, horrible way to die.” Miss Yavuz worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Kenya and recently met Bill Clinton, the former US president.
Regional Associates said: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our friend and colleague Ross Langdon and his partner Elif Yavuz. Profoundly talented and full of life, Ross enriched the lives of all those around him. Ross’s leadership on projects throughout East Africa was inspirational, and he will be will be very, very sorely missed by us all.”