David Chipperfield at the home of photographer Nick Knight:’ The whole street lobbied against it, writing to Prince Charles to try to have it stopped.’ Photograph: Michael Franke/ The Guardian
In 1990, when I was in my mid-3 0s and still quite inexperienced, I was approached by the mode photographer Nick Knight and his wife, Charlotte, to expand their London home. They is now in a postwar mansion that Nick’s father had built. Nick craved a studio upstairs and more cavity for his young family. At the time, I had a small office of four or five people and we were working with the designer Issey Miyake on a number of store interiors in Japan. This was my firstly building.
I was excited about everything I was seeing in Japan at the time: they tend to treat the garden as part of the house. Most of Nick’s neighbours invested a lot of coin on their facades; we did the opposite. We concentrated on how the house and garden could connect. We developed a large concrete frame that increased out from the side of the house, which had the consequences of the partly enclosing a courtyard garden. It likewise meant that the reces of the living room could be opened up, without a supporting column, framing a opinion into the garden, creating an outside infinite that feels like an indoor one.
We ended up with a fight on our hands. The whole street lobbied against it, writing to Prince Charles to try to have it stopped. The people across the road maintained their draperies sucked for a couple of years in demonstrate. It was an introduction to conservative English taste, which was quite shocking. It wasn’t that the house was too big; it was that the front didn’t look like the other homes in the street. That was the worst part of the process for me. Once we started to build, it was easy by comparison.
Designing and structure lives for parties is a delicate process, which is why I only take on one or two at a time. Success depends very much on how you develop a lane of being personal and professional: that relationship is critical.
This was the first time I had a central sentiment to my work- the idea of creating an expansive judgment in a suburban street- and it is a strategy I’ve lived by since. The mansion has been part of Nick and Charlotte’s life for 30 times and I think it has helped them formulate a work-life balance. Nick’s work is incredibly intense and demanding, hitherto he is dedicated to his family. I like to think the house has played a role.
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