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Bernard Harding


March 2017

This photograph of me with my Sensei, teacher, and friend for nearly forty years, was taken ten years ago. Bernard Harding had been diagnosed with myeloma cancer and had won – that time. After twelve years of winning, every battle that the disease gave him, he lost his war and last year he left us. He was also a client of LA architects and trusted us in the design of his garden and Japanese tea house.

One of the last occasions that we spoke together, was in the sunshine of his peaceful garden. Whilst we ate Welsh rarebit and drank tea, we had discussed his approach to Japanese gardens and the placement of objects. We discussed why the stones we had placed had to be moved, and why the trees needed to be trimmed. I realised, although I already knew, that his garden was an outpouring of his joy, his peace, his life. He taught me in that time that everything we do is only partly done. It continues.

All our buildings, designs, Aikido training, change develop and should improve. They should grow older, gracefully. They should all develop through entropy the sense of position in time and place.

Although Bernard has left us, he continues to teach me in landscape, architecture, and in my personal life. We have designed two Courtyard Gardens at the Portal in Irvine. As we set the stones, sought the trees, and placed the pebbles in the dry river, I knew that here, we had started a new building on a new journey. I will miss Bernard of course, but we carry his lessons and joy with us as we continue our journey.