In 1989 I started to claw my way back into the profession I had abandoned 16 years previously.  I’m not sure that would have happened if I had stayed in the UK. But in the context of Zimbabwe during the first decade of independence, being an architect seemed like it could be a useful contribution to the world. Plus I had a young family to support and my “rebellious student” persona was mellowing.

This was probably the high point of my hopes for Zimbabwe, and one Project in particular captures that spirit. It was a training centre for Mozambican refugees in the remote North East of the country.


The workshops were open-sided sheds with enclosed store rooms at one end. Woodwork, metalwork and building skills were offered to refugees and to local villagers. I visited the site to set out the buildings, and  to monitor the early stages of the building work.  Then I got a chance to complete my qualifications as a mature student at a South African university. My last visit was during…

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