Here’s the TED talk from the British-Australian architect killed in the Nairobi mall attack

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“Be present, in order to discover the beauty in unexpected places.” That was Ross Langdon’s advice to the audience of his TED talk in 2011. Over the weekend, Langdon and his pregnant girlfriend Elif Yavuz were killed in the terrorist attack on a mall in Nairobi.

An architect who grew up in rural Tasmania, Langdon’s respect for nature was the cornerstone of his work. His talk, delivered at TEDXKrakow, focuses on his love of Africa and a style he called ”chameleon architecture,” meaning he designed buildings to disappear into the landscape. His buildings were dotted across Tanzania and Uganda, inspired by everything from cloud formations to Kampala slums, and blended into lush, hilly landscapes. Their subtlety was their power. Here’s his talk:

Langdon’s family felled the timber that they used to build their house, milked their own cows and grew their own food. In Africa, he was known for seeking out local workers and using techniques and building materials from the area. The difficulty in transporting equipment, meant that even his toolkit was stripped down to manual tools, including a hacksaw made from a metal rod and an old seat belt that doubled as a tool-belt.

A blog post by Peter Adams, who knew Langdon from Tasmania, says the architect was about to start work on a $35 million museum “centered around the earliest fossil record of humanoids walking.” He had also designed an AIDS hospital in Kenya and an eco-village in Uganda. Adams wrote: ”Besides a personal loss for myself, this is a major global loss.”

Elif Yavuz and Ross Langdon, victims of the attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya.
Elif Yavuz and Ross Langdon, victims of the attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya.
Image: Courtesy of Peter Adams