The British Empire Library

Building A Life

by Geoffrey R Price

Courtesy of OSPA

Chris Cochran (Western Pacific 1968-82)
An architect's personal account of his life and work in Africa for twenty years then ten years in the Pacific in Solomon Islands and New Hebrides. A story about places posted to, lived in and work done there. Includes waspish dryly humorous opinions on people and situations.

He provides helpful background detail about each country, its geography, history and politics. He started in Northern Rhodesia in government service, then in private practice in Gold Coast and Nigeria mainly, with Kenya and Sierra Leone included too. He describes his work on both routine functional and prestige projects, each with tales of crooked contractors, corrupt politicians, officials and employees, incompetent lazy dishonest expatriate colleagues and reluctant payers.

He tells of malign foreign influences on governance and describes vividly the coups and rebellions he personally experienced.

In the Solomons he describes his work on functional projects such as schools, hospitals and offices and special events work like Royal visits and Independence celebrations. He includes the hard touring done to inspect sites on widely separated islands scattered over the ocean. He includes too, work on projects in New Hebrides when in the WPHC, with comment on its form of administration. He describes the improvements he made to work practice in the office and solving the demarcation disputes between engineer and architect. He tells vivid tales from personal experience of severe cyclones and of a big earthquake collectively testing his designs made for use in an area of unforgiving climate and volatile geology.

He writes in a clear easy style, well supported by illustrations. He includes a wide variety and mix of place, people, personality, event, incident and situation. Together they make an interesting and entertaining story. Furthermore, it contributes to the colonial historical record by providing insight and understanding of the architects' work in colonies at the end of Empire.

British Empire Book
Geoffrey R Price
The Memoir Club
1 84104 138 6


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