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 quite 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 built. 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 firstly building.
I was elicited 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 wasted a lot of money on their facades; we did the opposite. We concentrated on how the house and garden could connect. We made a large concrete chassis that extended out from the side of the house, which had the consequences of the partly enclosing a courtyard garden. It too meant that the reces of the living room could be opened up, without a supporting editorial, framing a position into the garden, creating an outside cavity that may seem 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 people across the road saved their screens drawn 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 rooms in the street. That was the worst part of the process for me. Once we started to build, it was easy by comparison.
Designing and build lives for parties is a delicate process, which is why I merely take on one or two at a time. Success depends much needed on how you develop a practice of being personal and professional: that relationship is critical.
This was the first time I had a center theme to my work- the idea of creating an expansive scene 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, yet he is dedicated to his family. I like to think the house has played a role.
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