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 residence that Nick’s father had constructed. Nick required a studio upstairs and more infinite 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 agitated 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 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 widened out from the side of the house, which had the effect of partially enclosing a courtyard garden. It also means that the angle of the living room could be opened up, without a supporting tower, framing a position into the garden, creating an outside infinite that feels like an indoor one.
We ended 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 prevented their screens described for a couple of years in rally. 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 mansions 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 building houses 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 space of being personal and professional: that relationship is critical.
This was the first time I had a center feeling to my job- the idea of creating an expansive opinion in a suburban street- and it is a strategy I’ve lived by since. The house 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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