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a life in architecture eric korn

On three occasions the antiquarian book dealer Eric Korn has faced the prospect of being locked in a building overnight. The first occasion was in St Sepulchre, the round church in Cambridge (above). 'It was late, a fog was descending and there was a religious mist in the church. '

Suddenly the door closed, leaving the teenage Korn inside but happy.

'I sat there meditating, probably Buddhist meditations. ' Deliverance came half an hour later when the church reopened for evensong.

The second occasion, on another foggy afternoon, was at Chester Zoo in the 1960s. Preoccupied with the problem of giraffe coloration - brown markings on a beige background, or vice versa? - Korn failed to notice that all the keepers were slipping away. For an hour he wandered around observing the animals 'removing their masks and returning to the characters they did not display when humans were there'. Again he escaped, this time by slipping out through a turnstile.

The last occasion was on Gozo when Korn found himself trapped in Ggantija, one of the best preserved of the megalithic temples on the Maltese island. 'It's tall and threatening and there's a sense of being enclosed. ' Once again he got locked in. This time he found the experience 'a little scary. I felt there was disapproval, I thought perhaps something numinous with fat thighs might find me. There are extraordinary mother goddesses there. '

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