900 House

Interior design ideas, plans, reviews, tips, tricks and much much more...

‘It didn’t matter if someone liked it or not’: six leading inventors revisit their first board

From a beach coffeehouse to a social housing ziggurat: this is where it all began for Norman Foster, Asif Khan and others

Norman Foster

Amenity centre and passenger terminal for Fred Olsen, Millwall docks, London, 1969 -7 0
I met Richard Rogers in the early 60 s at Yale School of Architecture in the US, where we were both studying for our master’s. We got on well and compounded powers to shape Team 4, with Wendy Cheeseman and her sister Georgie Walton, who was the only registered designer at the firm. Wendy and I married and, after four years, we set up Foster Accompanied in her bedsit. It was 1967: there were no affiliates and no projects.

A part-time architecture student worked with us. His father worked for a shipping company in Millwall piers in east London, announced Fred Olsen. He knew it was looking to build an amenity centre for its personnel and I got an audience with the dock manager. I was 33.

Norman
Norman Foster at Millwall Docks:’ The dock manager had never met an architect before. He gave me three weeks to come up with a proposal.’ Photograph: Michael Franke/ The Guardian

The facilities at the Port of London were frightful. Olsen was a progressive Norwegian company: it wanted to raise conditions for its employees. I arrived early and explored the site. The dock manager had never met an architect before. He showed me some existing blueprints. As the conversation went on, I began to raise questions- not just about the building, but about how the entire activity worked. In the end, he agreed to give me three weeks to come up with a proposal.

Olsen’s ships compounded trade with holiday cruises, carrying fares and freight in the same vessel. I ascertained that a similar strategy could be used to bring dock workers and managers together under one roof. I identified a restrict patch between two molts on the waterfront. I put the dockers’ amenities on the first floor and parts for administrative staff and management on the floor above.

A
A Foster sketch of his 1969 campaign, attracted on a lamp-post for photographer Michael Franke

” You can’t applied foul-mouthed dockers next to secretaries ,” was the immediate response. I had shaken everything up to such an extent that it was suggested I converge Fred Olsen himself. I argued that if you want to raise standards in the workplace, you should go beyond providing showers and bathrooms, and start to overcome the ingrained racisms between management and workforce. He agreed to the project and gave us one year to deliver it.

The building was challenging technologically as well as socially. At the time , no one in the UK had the knowhow to produce a glass wall with high-pitched thermal conduct. At my own cost, I flew to Pittsburgh to obtain a laid of acting attractions from a company that could stir the glass. Inside, we innovated a gaming arena on the ground floor: there were ping-pong counters and missile timbers. Upstairs, Olsen’s artwork collecting was on the walls; this was revolutionary for an office building.

The Olsen building was visited by the computer company IBM, which commissioned us to build a temporary head office in Cosham, near Portsmouth. It is now grade II-listed. Today, a concrete wall is all that remains of the Olsen site. Revisiting the orientation brought back some astonishing storages. Olsen genuinely was a bastion of hope in a desert of industrial dissension. Four years ago, my spouse organised a stun defendant for my 80 th birthday and I determined myself sit next to Fred Olsen. He said his only regret was that we didn’t structure more projects together.

I am still doing versions of the same thing: constructing communities, whether I am designing for a Swiss village or a disadvantaged community in Odisha, India, as I am through my foundation. That has remained a constant, since that very first commission.

Thomas Heatherwick

Harvey Nichols, London fashion week window displays, 1997

Thomas
Thomas Heatherwick with the original accumulate example, a’ ginormous polystyrene and aeroply organization ‘. Photograph: Michael Franke/ The Guardian

I met Terence Conran in my final year at the Royal College of Art, in 1994. He had come to give a talk and decided to buy a piece from my design stage show- a gazebo made from birch ply- for his back garden. He then asked me to design an interior display for the Conran Shop, so I made a layered structure from a kilometre of cardboard that exposed hundreds of kitchen items. Mary Portas, who worked for Harvey Nichols at the time, looked it and asked if I could design a window display at the department store for London fashion week 1997. I was 27 and this was my firstly proper public project.

When you think of a window display, you automatically recall: well, there is a window; what shall I place behind it? But I’ve always encountered it interesting to try to take a step further back. I anticipated maybe I could do something more engaging, most dynamic. I didn’t want to draw something that was imprisoned behind glass, so focused instead on the masonry between the windows and came up with this ginormous polystyrene and aeroply arrangement that weaved between the windows and the building.

I presented the relevant recommendations to Mary, considering she would say no. Everyone who understood the program thought it would be impossible to get the permissions. But Mary was up for it. I soon discovered that, when you try to do something different, people want to be involved. We then had to find a way of extending our minuscule budget to get this thing improved. There was a team of us working for PS3 an hour( about PS5. 60 today) in a vast studio in east London, including a couple of stone carvers from St Paul’s cathedral and a DJ who trod past and asked if he could help. It was 1997, so computer-aided blueprint wasn’t really available. I had to engrave this incredibly complex form into a 1:20 pattern that we then scaled up manually, use vast sheets of diagram paper.

I knew a slight shudder on attend the simulation again after 22 years. It was the first time I had done something so public- and there it was, suspended above people’s foremen on Knightsbridge. I was anxious, but in a good way: you should be scared, you should be worried. It was a great success, thank goodness- it won a D& AD[ Design and Art Direction] honor that time. I recollect sitting on a bus like to hear parties wonder what it was about. For me, it didn’t matter if someone liked it or not. It realized the street more colors and engaging.

Today, the authorities have 200 people working at my studio; we don’t body-build things ourselves any more, but we still try to inspire curiosity in the public. The Harvey Nichols window display took a year from intuition to installation. Right now, we are designing a brand-new terminal at Changi airport in Singapore that are able to take 10 times to complete. It involves millions of pounds of construction work and will endure for decades; but I feel the same strong sense of duty to the people who will experience it.

My first public fee taught me the quality of merely maintaining feeling, like a long-distance runner. It is easy for special things not to happen, but, rarely, some of them do. And in order for them to happen, it was necessary to employed everything of yourself into them.

Kate Macintosh

Dawson’s Heights, Dulwich, London, 1972

Architect
Kate Macintosh at Dawson’s Heights:’ Getting started felt exhilarating and terrifying.’ Photograph: Michael Franke/ The Guardian

My father suggested I study building, which was a quite advanced outlook for a person of his generation. After the second world war, he leader a department in a Scottish casing organisation; he was committed to providing decent home for everyone, a sentiment we shared.

I studied at Edinburgh School of Art from 1955 to 1961. I remember a tutor taking me to one side and saying:” Young maidens are not awfully practical. Have you thought of doing something like interior design ?” I am a stubborn party and I imagined: I’ll bloody-minded establish you. Thereafter, I paid particular attention to how my hypothesis would be built.

After graduation, I wreaked abroad – first in Poland, then in many architects’ offices in Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The whole humor in Europe was one of optimism. When I came back, I got a job with Denys Lasdun, working on the National Theatre. After about a year, I ascertained that this huge project was going to take ages to get on site. I is more junior member of the team and I are essential in order to get my boots grime, sharpish, and take on a commission of my own.

A lot of female inventors start by doing private homes, but I realized it as much more challenging to design a community. I watched there was huge pressure on London’s districts to provide dwelling. In 1965, at the age of 27, I took a job in the department of building and proposing at Southwark council and, to my gigantic good fortune, I was immediately presented with this prodigious area in Dulwich: Dawson’s Hill.

There was a slightly tumultuous convene where we had to present our schemes. There was one architect from Hong Kong who was proposing four tower blocks and another who was proposing a high-density, low-rise scheme. My design was two staggered ziggurats. This was a response to the specific characteristics of the locate- the stupendous judgments to north and south and the extremely unstable ground states. At the tips, the ziggurats sink from their peak height of 12 storeys to four, showing the circumventing magnitude of suburban villas.

Getting started felt exhilarating and scaring. When you are young, you feel you can take on the world. The housing administrator of Southwark drew up the brief, but as far as I was concerned my purchasers were the person or persons on Southwark’s housing list: those in most urgent need of homes.

I bequeathed a method that enabled one-, two- and three-bedroom dwellings to share the same access. My theory was that a mix of different family sizes, living next door to one another, would have been able to more capability to help each other out with babysitting or shopping. All of the 296 maisonettes have a private balcony; in some cases, two. On site, I remember practically losing a boot in the sticky London clay: a salesclerk of projects must be given to heave me out.

Today, there still seems to be a good community feel there. The dwellings are 30% leaseholder-owned and I would like it to stay at that degree. The central opening remains car-free and it still feels very safe. I’ve been told by inhabitants that children from the smothering field come there to play.

Dawson’s Heights is still the largest constructing I’ve designed. It concluded in the mid-7 0s, before the introduction of right-to-buy. After 1979, local authorities were deprived of financing, including a restriction on their right to raise rents; this led to poor maintenance by Southwark during the 80 s. It is now owned by a large housing association, Southern Housing Group, which invests in its upkeep. Looking back, I feel immensely grateful that my profession spanned what was a golden age for the public sector.

Asif Khan

West Beach coffeehouse, Littlehampton, 2008

Architect
Asif Khan at West Beach cafe:’ I take my teenagers there every year.’ Photograph: Michael Franke/ The Guardian

In my final year at building institution, I completed a self-funded project in Brazil- a canopy equipment I had designed and install in a favela outside Recife- and was invited to give a short presentation about it at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. I put a lot of energy into that six-minute talk, because I was still a student and I was presenting alongside professionals. I recollected: this might be my big break.

Afterwards, I got an email from person in the audience who “ve been told” I must speak to Jane Wood, a property developer in Littlehampton, West Sussex. It was 2007 and she had just commissioned Thomas Heatherwick, a rising star, to design a cafe on the site of a fish and chipping kiosk on the seafront , now known as East Beach cafe. She was creating a real buzz about the town.

Jane and I emailed backward and forward for a year; during that time, I became a father. It stirred me feel that anything was possible. When Heatherwick’s cafe was nearing completion, Jane invited me to look at a new website on the neighbouring west beach. She picked me up from the depot wearing big sunglasses and driving a lily-white van full of catering material. I had this idea that we were about to arrive at a remarkable site on an unspoilt beach backed by dunes. When I get out of the van, my dreams fell down a defect. It was a grey, breezy daylight and in front of me was a brick burger kiosk that hadn’t been used for six months. Jane said she wanted to replace it with something simple, like a beach shanty or a shanty that served fish and chippings and local ice-cream. I did some rapid growing up in those 30 minutes.

I went back with new ideas for a build that opens up to take in the condition and closes down when ailments are unfriendly. I accompanied likeness of agricultural designs, doll’s residences, waistband windows and the emblazon blue.

The day before the cafe opened, we invested a brightnes statue I had designed. Jane watched it and said:” It’s not right for this place. You can do this in Clerkenwell, but not in Littlehampton .” I was so upset, but it taught me one of the most important assignments of my busines: the responsibility you have to the people of a place.

After West Beach cafe, the financial crisis hit. I had to start again- to get out there and exhibit handiwork, to look for opportunities and, where there weren’t any, to create them. I took on several commissionings to design experimental pavilions in Singapore, Russia and South Korea. That enabled me to grow the studio. Today, we are working on projects all over the world: designing the brand-new Museum of London; converting a Soviet cinema in Almaty, Kazakhstan, into a centre for contemporary culture; and designing 6.5 km of walking streets and roads for Expo 2020 in Dubai. I want to keep this wander, so we are continually forced to rethink what is best for a neighbourhood. I’ve bound myself to these plazas just as I did in Littlehampton, where I take my boys every year: the coffeehouse continues unabated and it feels like home.

Mary Duggan

King’s Grove, Peckham, London, 2008

Architect
Mary Duggan at King’s Grove:’ I cherished that it was a hidden space with a sense of history.’ Photograph: Michael Franke/ The Guardian

This was the first house by Duggan Morris Architects, work practices I founded in 2004, when I was 33, with my then collaborator, Joe Morris. I had worked for Gollifer Langston Architects for five years, overseeing the build of seven institutions across north London, but you are never genuinely in complete control of a motif when you are working for a practice. I was determined to be independent, as was Joe.

Before King’s Grove, Joe and I had renovated three houses and managed to accrue enough fund to invest in this project- something most designers simply wouldn’t be able to do now.( Our first property expense exclusively PS60, 000.) We were friends with an architect who the hell is bought a small plot and got a planning application for it, but then decided he didn’t want to develop the site. He sold it to us for PS125, 000 and we procured a self-build mortgage. It was an interesting site reached via a long lane and sliced between 10 terraced back gardens. The previous structure- a plaster mould workshop- had been dismantled. Originally, it would have been a Victorian laundry or milk parlour. I desired that it was a hidden space with a sense of history.

Most architects have an idea of what their own residence will look like. I was no different: a light-pink fairytale building surrounded by beautiful gardens. But from our first see, I realised this wasn’t the site for that. I required the house to retain the examination and feel of the site. It was surrounded by brick walls and consumed by vegetation, we are therefore designed a house in a similar brick. I’ve learned to cartel those first instincts.

The design process was quite easy, since we are knew what we wanted; after all, we were also ” the customers “. I think this aspect of the project has had the greatest resonance in my subsequent busines: the fact that I was also the investor, the risk-taker, the brief-writer and, eventually, the decision-maker. As such, I am now able to empathise with patrons.

We designed the infinite with two thinks in brain: to live in it as a generous two-bed and, down the line, to develop it for sale, or convert it if we wanted to expand our household.( Our daughter was born in the house .) We used inexpensive brick and expended a bit more money on joinery. The kitchen, which fits into a niche in the wall, is made from oak and stainless steel. There is a roof light-headed in the centre of the house, while the figurehead and back doors open up to a south-facing courtyard and a north-facing terrace.

When Joe and I separated in 2016, Duggan Morris demerged and we had to sell the house. A friend bought it and extended an invitation over several times, but I made up excuses. I simply didn’t want to go back. Then the house was sold again, to a purchaser, who commissioned me in late 2018 to blueprint a studio in the garden-variety. Of track, I had to go back, even though I knew the cavity intimately.

It wasn’t easy because, under different circumstances, I would still be living in King’s Grove. In fact, I might be improving an extension for myself now. But it was great to see it in really good condition. It is the sort of house in which the details don’t tire, because it’s made from very honest information: brick, glass and oak. I went this strong sense that I had designed something that could stand the test of time.

David Chipperfield

Private house , Richmond, London, 1990

Architect
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 fad photographer Nick Knight and his wife, Charlotte, to expand their London home. They is now in a postwar residence that Nick’s father had built. Nick wanted a studio upstairs and more opening 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-variety as part of the house. Most of Nick’s neighbours expended a lot of fund on their facades; we did the opposite. We is focused on how the house and garden could connect. We developed a large concrete frame that extended out from the side of the house, which had the effect of partially enclosing a courtyard garden. It also meant that the angle of the living room could be opened up, without a supporting editorial, framing a judgment into the garden, creating an outside opening that feels 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 beings across the road kept their draperies sucked for a couple of years in dissent. 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 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 lives for people is a delicate process, which is why I merely take over 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 notion to my job- the idea of creating an expansive viewpoint 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 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.

* If you would like a comment on this article 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 booklet ).

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

900 House © 2017 - Interior design ideas, plans, reviews, tips, tricks and much much more...