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 fairly inexperienced, I was approached by the pattern photographer Nick Knight and his wife, Charlotte, to expand their London home. They were living in a postwar house that Nick’s father had constructed. Nick required a studio upstairs and more seat 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 roused 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 money on their facades; we did the opposite. We concentrated on how the house and garden could connect. We developed a large concrete chassis that provided out from the side of the house, which had the effect of partly enclosing a courtyard garden. It too meant that the reces of the living room could be opened up, without a supporting article, framing a thought into the garden, creating an outside room that may seem like an indoor one.
We aimed up with a fight on our hands. The whole street lobbied against it, writing to Prince Charles to try to have it stopped. The beings across the road prevented their curtains depicted for a couple of years in demonstration. 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 wall street. That was the worst part of the process for me. Once we started to build, it was easy by comparison.
Designing and construct houses for parties is a delicate process, which is why I only take over one or two at a time. Success depends very much on how you develop a space of being personal and professional: that relationship is critical.
This was the first time I had a center meaning to my job- the idea of creating an expansive vistum in a suburban street- and it is a strategy I’ve lived by since. The live 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, yet he is dedicated to his family. I like to think the house has played a role.
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