New book explores a life in design

Dr Neville Clouten and his new book.

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From the Sydney Opera House to outback Australia, and Andrews University to Africa and many journeys in between, a new book from Signs Publishing presents snapshots from the life and career of Adventist architect and academic Dr Neville Clouten. Released this month, A Plan Larger than I Could Draw traces God’s leading in Dr Clouten’s life. “Like many, I have a healthy scepticism of attributing life’s events to Divine guidance,” he says. “But there are some experiences for which I have no better explanation than that God intervened.”

“We have appreciated working with Dr Clouten to share these reflections on his life’s work and journey,” says Nathan Brown, book editor at Signs Publishing. “When I first read the manuscript, I was fascinated by his experiences and enjoyed being prompted to think about our world in different ways, which is the hallmark of a good read.”

Dr Clouten was beginning his architectural studies at the University of Sydney when the winning entry in the design competition for the Sydney Opera House was announced. He eventually earned a position guiding tours on the Opera House site and explaining the building to dignitaries and the public.

This experience and his connection with architect Jørn Utzon opened doors for Dr Clouten to work in Sweden and the United States, including the opportunity to share his Opera House experiences at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Yale University. Later, he would help launch the Adventist Church’s first architectural study program as the Inaugural Professor of Architecture at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan.

“Dr Clouten’s professional journey demonstrates the value of faithful creativity and how God is with us and can guide us, whatever our vocation or location,” says Mr Brown.

A Plan Larger Than I Could Draw records some of Dr Clouten’s many adventures—camping across Europe in a small tent, driving treacherous roads in Central America and using stereoscopic photography to record First Nations’ rock carvings and paintings in the Australian outback. At times funny and at other times deeply reflective, these stories “portray a healthy curiosity and thoughtful engagement with the wider world,” according to Mr Brown.

In recent years, Dr Clouten and his wife Norene have been a key part of building a school for a community in Kenya—a project that might not have eventuated had they ignored an unexpected and unsolicited email from an orphan girl they had never met. The Cloutens now regard Faith as their adopted daughter and have spent time with her both in Kenya and at their home near Cooranbong, New South Wales. 

Dr Clouten hopes this book will be a “legacy,” showing that it is possible to make sense of “unexpected situations” if we consider that they might be part of a larger plan for our lives. 

A Plan Larger than I Could Draw is available from Adventist bookshops in Australia and New Zealand, or online.

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