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North London boy

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Everything you ever wanted to know about Aldo van Eyck can be found in a magnum opus from Dutch publisher Architectura & Natura. Francis Strauven's Aldo van Eyck: The Shape of Relativity, 20 years in the making, illuminates Aldo's childhood in a Golders Green semi. 'Mother dedicated herself to house and garden. Her friends' languishing plants flourished under her green fingers, and she instilled her children with an awareness of the little wonders of botanical nature. Her younger son showed so much interest that she presented him with a terrarium.' Aldo's father, 'pn', was given to reciting Homer, Aeschylus and Dante at the dinner-table: 'He regarded eating as a function that merely happened to be necessary to survive and preferred to reduce it to the most inconspicuous possible automatism.' Sent off to school in Somerset, Aldo 'devoted himself to regular astronomical observations under the guidance of Mr Fish, the music teacher.' Thank heaven this was just 'on clear winter nights, clad in a heavy overcoat'.

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