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 fashion photographer Nick Knight and his wife, Charlotte, to expand their London home. They were living in a postwar room that Nick’s father had built. Nick required 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 elicited 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 expended a lot of coin on their facades; we did the opposite. We concentrated on how the house and garden could connect. We established a large concrete frame that provided out from the side of members of this house, which had the consequences of the partially enclosing a courtyard garden. It also means that the reces of the living room could be opened up, without a supporting article, framing a thought into the garden, creating an outside space that may seem 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 beings across the road deterred their screens attracted for a couple of years in complain. 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 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 residences 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 behavior 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 position in a suburban street- and it is a strategy I’ve lived by since. The live 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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