Vale Peter and Suzanne Little
Peter, apart from being an intellectual who showed a unique ethical way of thinking as an architect during our studies at Perth Tech in the late 1960s. This inspired and challenged me all my life as it did for my fellow students. Greg Sansom remembers Peter opening the discussion on design with a question: “What is this thing called architecture?”
Later he also asked: “What is this thing called house?” He never pontificated, just challenged us to think deeply about what were doing, explore our ideas and develop skills that would deliver a professional solution for the whole community as well as the client.
Many of us professionals taught by Peter recognize that he had a lasting effect on our approach to architecture and a spirit of enquiry that would lead us to question the status quo and have the courage to be innovative. To challenge conventional thinking was the spirit of the 1960s and it was Peter Little at heart.
Max Ball recalls how in the mid 1980s when we worked together Peter was still acting as a mentor, developing up communication expertise for residential clients, when passive solar housing was a new version of Climatic design. We took a scientific, evidence-based approach instead of just applying board principles. Peter was with us every step of the way.
In the late 1970s Physicist Dr R Bob Lawrance, Peter and I were developing the thermodynamic calculation methods that eventually ended up as a computer program and then a design manual that scoped out detail and rules of thumb to allow the built environment professions to quickly develop designs that would work well, not just visually, but practically and economically. History shows that this work was indeed prescient.
Peter and Bob were academically way ahead of most professionals and scientists at the time being fully aware of the growing impact of Climate Change and the role of the built environment in being a big part of the problem or a big part of its solution.
I agreed with Peter that from a positivist viewpoint we needed to be a part of solution. He then influenced my career over the next 4 decades and celebrated my successes with me and consoled me on my difficulties both personal and professional. He was loyal backstop as he aged, right up to within days of their passing. We could talk all day about issues and solutions.
His artistic and intellectual abilities were immense and being equally comfortable as a painter, on a drawing board, project managing and residential building, an organic farm or architectural practice and above all getting some thing done. The public interest was always a part of Peter’s motivation. In his mind everyone needed to win from Peter’s contributions, something that has inspired me throughout, and I suspect for the rest of my life.
What gave Peter the confidence and resilience to take on his many challenges was Suzanne who was integral with Peter along his life journey. There was no one would could be more supportive as a spouse and be her own strong intellect as well as sounding board for Peter in such a humble but definitive way. Peter confided to me near the end that Suzanne was much stronger than him emotionally. Many people from the outside may not have noticed, but they were a complete team
Peter was not just a teacher, not just a close friend and mentor he effectively became my older brother and I suspect I became his younger brother. Suzanne at his side all the way was more than just a close friend. Julia and I were extended family, part of his close private world as well as his more public world of professional contributions that often challenged everyone he contacted. Some didn’t like it but whether they admitted it or not, his challenge was a wake up call and a subtle gift for them to eventually realize.
Both Peter and Suzanne’s passing will leave a gap for me that will no longer be filled by anyone else from his generation. It is indeed the end of an era for me.
I just hope that I can continue pass on the generosity of helping younger professional innovators as Peter did with me for over half a century. It is important for unconditional efforts to help keep the continuum of change to serving next generations of human kind and protecting the natural world that we inherit when born that needs our respect.
I have had messages from many of my colleagues when made aware of Peter’s sad passing, concurring with my description of the effect Peter had on them as a teacher.
I truly believe that the only real contribution one can make that is intergenerational is Qualities and Values. Armed with this we as human beings can solve almost anything. Peter suggested we should try.
What a Legacy!
Garry Baverstock AM &
February 23rd 2019