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By: Feiko Bouman

Urban Peasant

Pages: 347 Ratings:
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It deals with true migrant stories. Following long years of Nazi occupation and a bleak outlook in post WW2 Groningen (Netherlands), this encompasses the exciting six-week travel to the Great Southern Land via the Panama Canal, with exotic pit-stops on the way, unorthodox education of a newly-arrived child, pioneering days in Oxford Falls and the discovery of 'cosmopolitan' Manly. This is followed by close encounters with pigeons and adolescent exploration on floating old mattresses upstream on the toxic Curl Curl Lagoon. Follow the author through his university days and further adventures here-and-there in the 'sixties'. Read some behind-the-scenes stories of the world of architecture: The Stockman's Hall of Fame, including arm-wrestling with R.M. Williams and a personal encounter at the extravagant opening of the author's building in Longreach by Queen Elizabeth, who flew in especially for the occasion. Read about Bouman's collaboration with Ted Mack in their quest for some urbanity in North Sydney, travels with Ted Egan on the road in the real outback and difficulties with Sir Garfield Barwick as co-designer and supervising architect of The High Court of Australia, Canberra. Then, return to the old country with Bouman, on a re-discovery of his mother tongue as an adult. A time to check out what his contemporaries in Groningen had been up to during his casual 60-year absence.It is a chronicle, only mildly haphazard; a kind of memoir.

The story starts in Groningen, Netherlands.


Seven years after WW2 ended, the air remained thick with despair and there were still piles of rubble on the ground in Groningen, where once had been handsome buildings around the city square.


Bouman made a bold decision for a new beginning in Australia.


Perhaps this vivid lingering image of urban destruction promoted an early taste for the process of building and architecture to become firmly lodged, leading to some interesting adventures. At first, his education was unusually haphazard but soon, there followed a more regular template through an established trajectory via university. Then later, working in a variety of architectural offices, including in London, real life made an appearance.


He was successful in significant Australia-wide architectural competitions including: The High Court of Australia, Canberra and The Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre. This building was opened by the Queen in Longreach Queensland,1988; she flew in especially. Many strange Outback stories were to unfold as a consequence. This experience revealed and unfolded the mystery and dense excitement to be found in the flexing of design muscle.


More recently, he has published some books, which tell the story of his architecture, unorthodox adventures as a migrant child and re-visiting the old country as an adult, to check out what his contemporaries have been up to in the meantime, after an absence of more than 60 years.


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