David Chipperfield at the dwelling 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 fairly inexperienced, I was approached by the fad photographer Nick Knight and his wife, Charlotte, to expand their London home. They were living in a postwar house that Nick’s father had built. Nick craved a studio upstairs and more infinite 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 first 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 wasted a lot of fund on their facades; we did the opposite. We concentrated on how the house and garden could connect. We formed a large concrete frame that provided out from the side of the house, which had the consequences of the partially enclosing a courtyard garden. It too meant that the reces of the living room could be opened up, without a supporting tower, framing a deem into the garden, creating an outside opening that may seem like an indoor one.
We discontinued up with a fight on our hands. The whole street lobbied against it, writing to Prince Charles to try to have it stopped. The parties across the road deterred their screens gleaned for a couple of years in protest. It was an introduction to republican English taste, which was quite shocking. It wasn’t that the house was too big; it was that the figurehead didn’t look like the other residences in wall street. That was the worst part of the process for me. Once we started to build, it was easy by comparison.
Designing and building rooms for beings 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 course of being personal and professional: that relationship is critical.
This was the first time I had a central thought to my work- the idea of creating an expansive vistum in a suburban street- and it is a strategy I’ve lived by since. The home has been part of Nick and Charlotte’s life for 30 years and I think it has helped them formulate a work-life balance. Nick’s work is incredibly intense and demanding, yet he is dedicated to his family. I like to think the house has played a role.
* If you would like a comment on this part to be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazine’s words page in periodical, satisfy email weekend @theguardian. com, including your name and address( not for book ).