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We understand that one of the victims of the incident at Westgate Mall in Nairobi was Ross Langdon.
Ross was born in Tasmania, Australia and moved to practice architecture in London a few years ago. In early 2010 his practice, Regional Associates was appointed Consultant architects for designing and building Volcanoes Safaris Kyambura Gorge Lodge near Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda. Regional Associates, in partnership with the Volcanoes design and construction team, successfully completed the building of the lodge in early 2012. The new lodge was included in the Condé Nast Traveler’s Hot List for the Best New Hotels of the year.
Ross also acted as a consultant on Volcanoes other lodges in Uganda and Rwanda on an ad-hoc basis until his untimely death. He has left a distinctive legacy of his creativity in different ways within each property and has been an important contributor to the Volcanoes design journey in recent years.
After his assignment in Kyambura was completed, Ross took on various projects in the region including the redevelopment of the Dar-es-Salaam Yacht Club, and other lodge and community projects. He was a gifted and creative designer, pushing the limits. He was experimental and unconventional in his designs. He was an avid student of the creations of great architects and designers, of alternative architectural styles and building materials. He revelled in sharing ideas, leading student workshops and entering competitions, including one for building a complete new town in Norway.
Working in partnership with the Volcanoes team, Ross gave Kyambura Gorge lodge a contemporary modern twist. Drawing inspiration from 'everyday' Africa, the lodge celebrates the abundance, vibrancy and resourcefulness of found or discarded objects in a way not originally intended. This 'up-cycling' is a hallmark of the design of the lodge and received recognition from different bodies – a testament to Ross’ inspirational vision.
Ross also initiated an innovative exchange scheme in which Volcanoes Safaris provided new iron sheets for the roofs of some village homes belonging to HIV-infected patients, a school and a mosque. In exchange for the new iron roofing sheets, Ross reused the villagers' rusty, distressed sheets in the design of the lodge as he felt they were more appropriate for the lodge’s design needs.
On a personal note, Ross was vibrant and sensitive. He had a warm personality and was able to charm everyone with his mischief and sense of humour. His death is especially tragic as he and his partner Elif, who is also reported to have died in the incident, were due to have a child in Nairobi shortly. He will be missed, not only by his colleagues and friends at Volcanoes, but by his many friends and design collaborators in many countries.
Our thoughts are with the families of Ross and Elif and all the other families affected by the Nairobi incident. Volcanoes Safaris and Ross and Elifs' friends will be commemorating their passing in Kampala shortly. We will also be marking Ross's long and close association with Volcanoes in a permanent way.
Founder, Volcanoes Safaris
Tuesday 24 September 2013
Tracking chimpanzees in their natural habitat, as they swing from the branches in the canopy high above the forest floor is nothing short of exhilarating. The chimps effortlessly cross and scamper through the trees above the gorge, and visitors on the other hand must cross the river using natural bridges in order to keep up with the chimps. So although the walk usually lasts only 2–3 hours, descending the steep gorge and crossing the log bridges over the river requires some agility and fitness.
Chimpanzee tracking is also available in nearby Kalinzu, a forest reserve 30 minutes drive from Kyambura Gorge Lodge where there is a community of about 40 habituated chimpanzees.