David Chipperfield at the residence 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 style 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 wanted a studio upstairs and more room 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 stimulated 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 expended a lot of money on their facades; we did the opposite. We focussing on how the house and garden could connect. We formed a large concrete chassis that widened out from the side of the chamber of representatives, which had the consequences of the partly enclosing a courtyard garden. It too meant that the area of the living room could be opened up, without a supporting tower, framing a belief into the garden, creating an outside infinite that feels like an indoor one.
We intention 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 kept their shrouds outlined for a couple of years in demonstrate. 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 rooms 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 structure residences for beings is a delicate process, which is why I merely take on one or two at a time. Success depends very much on how you develop a style of being personal and professional: that relationship is critical.
This was the first time I had a central feeling 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 room 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, hitherto he is dedicated to his family. I like to think the house has played a role.
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