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 home that Nick’s father had built. Nick required 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 excited 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 money on their facades; we did the opposite. We concentrated on how the house and garden could connect. We caused a large concrete chassis that provided out from the side of the house, which had the effect of partially enclosing a courtyard garden. It also meant that the reces of the living room could be opened up, without a supporting article, framing a idea into the garden, creating an outside opening that feels 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 parties across the road stopped their shrouds attracted for a couple of years in demonstrate. 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 front didn’t look like the other residences 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 structure lives for people is a delicate process, which is why I merely take on one or two at a time. Success depends very much on how you develop a room of being personal and professional: that relationship is critical.
This was the first occasion I had a central thought to my job- the idea of creating an expansive view in a suburban street- and it is a strategy I’ve lived by since. The home 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 fragment to be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazine’s notes page in print, satisfy email weekend @theguardian. com, including your name and address( not for pamphlet ).