David Chipperfield at the home 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 pattern photographer Nick Knight and his wife, Charlotte, to expand their London home. They were living in a postwar room that Nick’s father had constructed. 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 firstly building.
I was provoked 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 wasted a lot of fund on their facades; we did the opposite. We is focused on how the house and garden could connect. We generated a large concrete chassis that extended out from the side of the chamber of representatives, which had the consequences of the partially enclosing a courtyard garden. It also meant that the area of the living room could be opened up, without a supporting column, framing a panorama into the garden, creating an outside room 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 preserved their draperies sucked 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 the street. That was the worst part of the process for me. Once we started to build, it was easy by comparison.
Designing and building homes for parties is a delicate process, which is why I exclusively take on one or two at a time. Success depends much needed on how you develop a mode of being personal and professional: that relationship is critical.
This was the first time I had a center thought to my work- the idea of creating an expansive position 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.
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