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 fashion photographer Nick Knight and his wife, Charlotte, to expand their London home. They is now in a postwar home that Nick’s father had constructed. Nick missed 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 first building.
I was aroused 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 spent a great deal of money on their facades; we did the opposite. We concentrated on how the house and garden could connect. We generated a large concrete chassis that increased out from the side of the chamber of representatives, which had the effect of partially enclosing a courtyard garden. It likewise meant that the corner of the living room could be opened up, without a supporting pillar, framing a panorama into the garden, creating an outside cavity that feels 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 people across the road prevented their curtains outlined for a couple of years in affirm. 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 figurehead didn’t look like the other lives 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 house lives for parties is a delicate process, which is why I exclusively take over 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 feeling to my job- the idea of creating an expansive panorama in a suburban street- and it is a strategy I’ve lived by since. The residence 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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