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 mode photographer Nick Knight and his wife, Charlotte, to expand their London home. They resided in a postwar home that Nick’s father had built. Nick craved 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 expended a great deal of money on their facades; we did the opposite. We concentrated on how the house and garden could connect. We established a large concrete chassis that extended out from the side of the house, which had the consequences of partially enclosing a courtyard garden. It also meant that the corner of the living room could be opened up, without a supporting pillar, framing a look into the garden, creating an outside infinite that may seem like an indoor one.
We resolved 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 obstructed their draperies outlined for a couple of years in affirm. 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 houses 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 homes for people 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 way of being personal and professional: that relationship is critical.
This is the first occasion I had a central theory to my job- the idea of creating an expansive viewpoint 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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