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 commissioning

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 core and fare 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 mixed powers to formation Team 4, with Wendy Cheeseman and her sister Georgie Walton, who was the only registered designer at the house. Wendy and I married and, after four years, we set up Foster Identify in her bedsit. It was 1967: there were no identifies and no projects.

A part-time architecture student worked with us. His father worked for a shipping company in Millwall wharves in east London, announced Fred Olsen. He knew it was looking to build an amenity centre for its workforce 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 “ve given me” three weeks to be accomplished with a proposal.’ Photograph: Michael Franke/ The Guardian

The facilities at the Port of London were shocking. 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 intends. As the conversation went on, I began to raise questions- not just about the building, but about how the entire running labor. In the end, he agreed to give me three weeks to come up with a proposal.

Olsen’s carries compounded trade with holiday cruises, carrying fares and freight in the same vessel. I understood that a same programme could be used to bring dock workers and managers together under one roof. I determined a restrict planned between two sheds on the waterfront. I put the dockers’ amenities on the ground floor and places for administrative staff and management on the storey above.

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

” You can’t put foul-mouthed dockers next to secretaries ,” was the immediate response. I had shaken everything up to such an extent that it was suggested I fulfill Fred Olsen himself. I argued that if you want to raise standards in the workplace, you should go beyond providing showers and lavatories, 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 , nobody in the UK had the knowhow to produce a glass wall with high-pitched thermal conduct. At my own expenditure, I flew to Pittsburgh to obtain a establish of operating makes from a company that could realize the glass. Inside, we inserted a gaming orbit on the first floor: there were ping-pong counters and missile committees. Upstairs, Olsen’s skill collection 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 spot brought back some remarkable memories. Olsen really was a bastion of hope in a desert of industrial turmoil. Four years ago, my spouse organised a amaze party for my 80 th birthday and I obtained myself bear next to Fred Olsen. He said his only regret was that we didn’t develop more projects together.

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

Thomas Heatherwick

Harvey Nichols, London fad week window displays, 1997

Thomas
Thomas Heatherwick with the original accumulation simulate, a’ ginormous polystyrene and aeroply organize ‘. 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 pattern degree establish- 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 arrangement from a kilometre of cardboard that exposed hundreds of kitchen items. Mary Portas, who worked for Harvey Nichols at the time, encountered it and would like to know whether I could design a window display at the department store for London fashion week 1997. I was 27 and this was my first proper public project.

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

I presented the idea to Mary, imagining she would say no. Everyone who encountered the programme 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 strolled past and asked if he could help. It was 1997, so computer-aided layout wasn’t really available. I had to engrave this incredibly complex form into a 1:20 prototype that we then scaled up manually, utilizing vast sheets of diagram paper.

I knew a slight shudder on hear the modeling again after 22 years. It was the first time I had done something so public- and there it was, suspended above people’s thoughts 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 triumphed a D& AD[ Design and Art Direction] bestow that time. I recollect sitting on a bus listening to parties wonder what it was about. For me, it didn’t matter if someone would prefer it or not. It built wall street more vivid and engaging.

Today, the authorities have 200 beings is currently working on my studio; we don’t build things ourselves any more, but we still try to inspire curiosity in the public. The Harvey Nichols window display took a year from notion to installing. Right now, we are designing a brand-new terminal at Changi airport in Singapore that will take 10 years 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 instruct me a better quality of exactly keeping feeling, like a long-distance runner. It is easy for special things not to happen, but, sometimes, some of them do. And in order for them to happen, you must placed 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 intimated I study structure, which was a moderately advanced position for a male of his generation. After the second world war, he honcho ministries and departments in a Scottish dwelling organisation; he was committed to providing decent casing for everybody, a notion 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 exceedingly practical. Have you thought of doing something like interior design ?” I am a tenaciou party and I envisaged: I’ll viciou demo you. Thereafter, I paid particular attention to how my propositions would be built.

After graduation, I wreaked abroad – first in Poland, then in many architects’ parts in Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The whole climate in Europe was one of optimism. When I came back, I have a job with Denys Lasdun, “workin 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 dirty, sharpish, and take on a commission of my own.

A lot of female architects begin by doing private residences, but I attended it as much more challenging to design a community. I identified there was huge pressure on London’s parishes to provide dwelling. In 1965, at the age of 27, I took a job in the department of building and scheming at Southwark council and, to my immense good fortune, I was immediately presented with this prodigious site in Dulwich: Dawson’s Hill.

There was a slightly tumultuous find 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 place- the colossal scenes to north and south and the extremely unstable ground maladies. At the boundaries, the ziggurats pitch from their maximum height of 12 storeys to four, indicating the encircling magnitude of suburban villas.

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

I bequeathed a plan 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 more capacity to help each other out with babysitting or patronizing. All of the 296 maisonettes have a private balcony; in some cases, two. On site, I recollect virtually losing a boot in the sticky London clay: a salesclerk of labors must be given to heave me out.

Today, there still seems to be a good community feel there. The residences are 30% leaseholder-owned and I would like it to stay at that stage. The center room remains car-free and it still feels very safe. I’ve been told by tenants that children from the encircling 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 funding, including a restriction on their right to raise payments; 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 maintenance. Looking back, I feel vastly grateful that my profession covered what was a golden age for the public sector.

Asif Khan

West Beach cafe, Littlehampton, 2008

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

In my final time at architecture academy, I ended a self-funded project in Brazil- a canopy equipment I had designed and installed in a favela outside Recife- and was invited to give a short presentation about it at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. I placed a lot of energy into that six-minute talk, because I was still a student and I was presenting alongside professionals. I thought: this might be my big break.

Afterwards, I got an email from someone in the gathering 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 chip kiosk on the seafront , now known as East Beach coffeehouse. She was creating a real buzz about the town.

Jane and I emailed back and forth for a year; during that time, I became a father. It constructed me feel that anything was possible. When Heatherwick’s coffeehouse was be completed, Jane invited me to look at a new locate on the neighbouring west beach. She picked me up from the depot wearing big-hearted sunglasses and driving a grey van full of cater gear. I had this idea that we were about to arrive at a impressive locating on an unspoilt beach backed by dunes. When I went out of the van, my dreams fell into a fault. It was a grey, stormy 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 hut or a shack 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 structure that opens up to take in the weather and closes down when modes are hostile. I wreaked portraits of agricultural designs, doll’s houses, sash windows and the emblazon blue.

The day before the cafe opened, we installed a flare carve I had designed. Jane viewed 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 schooled me one of the biggest lessons of my occupation: 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 undertaking, to look for opportunities and, where there weren’t any, to create them. I took on various fees to design experimental pavilions in Singapore, Russia and South Korea. That enabled me to grow the studio. Today, we are working on jobs across the world: designing the brand-new Museum of London; proselytizing a Soviet cinema in Almaty, Kazakhstan, into a centre for contemporary culture; and aim 6.5 km of treading roads and roads for Expo 2020 in Dubai. I want to keep this range, so we are continually forced to rethink what is best for a place. I’ve fasten myself to these targets just as I did in Littlehampton, where I take my children each year: the cafe is still there and it feels like home.

Mary Duggan

King’s Grove, Peckham, London, 2008

Architect
Mary Duggan at King’s Grove:’ I adored 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 marriage, Joe Morris. I had worked for Gollifer Langston Architects for five years, overseeing the build of seven academies across north London, but you are never genuinely in complete control of a design 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 coin to invest in this project- something most designers simply wouldn’t be able to do now.( Our first dimension payment simply PS60, 000.) We were friends with an inventor who had 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 secured a self-build mortgage. It was an interesting site reached via a long lane and sliced between 10 terraced back gardens. The previous construct- a plaster mould workshop- had been razed. Originally, it would have been a Victorian laundry or milk parlour. I affection that it was a hidden space with a sense of history.

Most inventors “ve got 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 place for that. I required the house to retain the appear and feel of the site. It was surrounded by brick walls and consumed by vegetation, we are therefore designed a house in a same brick. I’ve learned to rely those first instincts.

The design process was quite easy, because we 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 precede career: the fact that I was also the investor, the risk-taker, the brief-writer and, ultimately, the decision-maker. As such, I am now able to empathise with purchasers.

We designed the cavity with two ponders in brain: to live in it as a generous two-bed and, down the line, to develop it for sale, or proselytize it if we wanted to expand our category.( Our daughter was born in the chamber of representatives .) 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-footed 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 invited me over several times, but I made up justifies. I only didn’t want to go back. Then the house was sold again, to a patron, who commissioned me in late 2018 to blueprint a studio in the plot. Of course, I had to go back, even though I knew the room intimately.

It wasn’t easy because, under different circumstances, I would still be living in King’s Grove. In fact, I might be constructing 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 got this strong sense that I had designed something that have been able to 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 fashion photographer Nick Knight and his wife, Charlotte, to expand their London home. They were living in a postwar live that Nick’s father had improved. 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 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 lot of coin on their facades; we did the opposite. We concentrated on how the house and garden could connect. We created a large concrete frame that extended out from the side of the house, which had the effect of partially enclosing a courtyard garden. It too means that the corner of the living room could be opened up, without a supporting tower, framing a thought into the garden, creating an outside infinite 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 parties across the road retained their shrouds attracted for a couple of years in assert. 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 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 houses for parties is a delicate process, which is why I merely take over one or two at a time. Success depends much needed on how you develop a behavior of being personal and professional: that relationship is critical.

This was the first time I had a central impression to my work- the idea of creating an expansive consider in a suburban street- and it is a strategy I’ve lived by since. The mansion 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 section to be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazine’s words page in print, please 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...