Driving along the other day, I turned down the street I grew up in. I usually take a glance at my first home if ever I’m driving by. This occasion however I didn’t, I think I was lost in thought, distracted, but I did notice in my periphery an excavator and with that an uneasy feeling in my stomach. I braked hard, the car came to a quick stop. I reversed back. On the very day I happened to drive by the house I grew up in, was the day it had been demolished!
My heart sank and I felt a sadness set in. I sat there and just stared out over the rubble. I began having flash backs, fond memories of times in my first home. I lived there till the age of 12. Now it was gone, so to the trees, not even a single plant left, nothing but dirt and rubble… I kept coming back to the memory of the huge tree out front, (since long gone) and my joy in autumn of kicking my way through its fallen leaves. Back then those little legs were knee deep in those leaves. I would dive into them like superman and they would cushion my fall. When I was done I would leave a trail of tree behind me as I made my way back through the house… It was where I played Lego every moment I could, and where my dad taught me to draw.
With my second sister was on the way, this house was no longer big enough. My parents engaged an architect to design us a new home on another property my parents had bought. I still remember the night we gathered around the table and Dad rolled out the plans so we could see our new home. I had never seen architectural drawings before but I understood them immediately. I was totally captivated! Every night after that I would nag Dad to see the plans again. I would just stare at them imagining our new home. This went on for weeks and weeks until one day my Dad said to me “Darren this is what an architect does, maybe you want to be an architect some day?” A question that changed my life forever – At age 10 I discovered that I wanted to be an architect! And so it was on that living room floor that I would lay every weekend designing my first ever houses in my dad’s old invoice books; any blank piece of paper was a target for my drawings.
I was left thinking: I had not lived in this house for 28 years, yet I was still so emotionally attached to this place. And now I sat in my car, almost unable to move, it was as if nothing else in the world was happening except for my feeling of loss. I stared out at the now vacant block, excavator sitting still on top of where much of my childhood took place. I find my self very emotional again, as I sit here writing this some days later…
They may be made of brick, timber, plasterboard, etc but our homes are much more than that. They live with us, they become part of us, but we don’t really realise it till it’s time to move onto the next one, and it is hard to say goodbye.
It’s not just a brick to me, it’s a piece of the spaces I create that brings people together, shelters them and allows them a safe place for love, connection and memories to unfold.
And that is why I love being an architect. I create something that means so much to people – a place to live their lives. And if one day they will be sad to leave the house I created for them, then I’ve done my job well.
So long 430 Chesterville Road, thanks for looking after me.