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Style Counsel

Over the past three decades, David Chipperfield has emerged as one of Britain's most influential, and visible, architects, with awards tending to come his way in flurries. This month, he will serve as director of the 13th Venice International Architecture Biennale, the profession's big event for the exchange of ideas and business cards. Before leaving for Italy, Chipperfield invited Hemispheres to his London office, where he talked us through some of his more notable projects.


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Turner Contemporary

“Here we have a large, modern building in an English seaside town. So how does it fit in? In a sense, it doesn’t—there was no hope of disguising an art gallery as a Victorian terraced house. When we first built the Turner, some were shocked—’Oh my God! It’s sort of ugly!’—but then people went in and understood it. The building looks out to sea; it gets the same quality of light that brought J.M.W. Turner [one of Britain’s most celebrated artists and the museum’s namesake] to Margate.”

“This building has two roles: a VIP grandstand for the America’s Cup and a symbol of that event and of the city’s regeneration. One of the things we did was lift it off the ground so that people without a VIP pass could have access, which was a way to make the building more popular and more relevant to the public. I also wanted to encapsulate the spirit of the event. People came here, and felt a little like they were on a boat.”

“This old museum [partly destroyed in World War II] carries a lot of emotional baggage for Germans, so the project was hotly debated. There were two extremes expected of me: The first was to put it back together as it was, and the second was to graft a modern building onto the ruins. My route was in the middle—to make a new building out of the fragments, creating something beautiful from the ruins.”

“I’m interested in how a building feels. I’m not worried about it looking a bit boring. You have all these architects trying to make their buildings exciting, then people visit them and are disappointed. I’d rather it was the other way round. Maybe people need to go inside and be there for a while before realizing that, you know, this is actually quite a nice place to be.”

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