Appropiate Designs – the parable of the distant architect

After years of living in rented accomodation with no say over her own affairs, Flo, from Guyana, decided to build her own house. It was to be situated in Buxton, some 12 miles from the capital, Georgetown.

The house was to be built on what was once a sugar plantation, that was still under the ownership of a foreign land owner. 

Edward, the land owner who’s family had owned the land since the days of Empire, insisted on having a say in the design. 

Flo appointed a local architect to design the house – a bedroom, kitchen, and a wash room. The plans were then sent for Edward’s seal of aproval. 

Edward however, who lived in a grand stone house in Knightsbridge, decided that the design was not to his taste. For one thing the house was built on stilts; made out of wood; and much too small. That was not how one built a house, thought Edward. 

He appointed a firm of London architects to re-design the house and sent the revised version over to Flo. 

The new design was completley inapporpraite for Buxton, so she had to pay more in order for her architects to re-design the house and incorprate some of Edward’s ideas. 

But the revised design was still alien to Edward, and he failed to appreciate the design’s virtues.  This went on for some time with Flo having to pay more and more in order to re-design the house to comply with Edward’s whims. 

They eventually arrived at a compromise, one which was not to Flo’s liking. They agreed to build the house out of wood, but without the stilts. 

Even though Edward’s design was visually striking, Flo never got the chance to live in the new house. A short while after completion the rainy season started, and floods of water drove through the house destroying everything. 

Flo insisted that she be allowed to build her own house with her own designs. Edward had learnt his lesson. On March 3rd Flo moved in to her cosy new house on stilts, protecting her from the floods.

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