David Chipperfield RA

I went to David Chipperfield’s offices last night to attend the launch of the latest book about his practice: they get fatter each time, but always in the same deliberately economical typeface, designed by John Morgan. This time there is an introduction by Fulvio Irace, a Professor at the Politecnico di Milano, which places Chipperfield’s work in the context of the postwar Milanese tradition of pragmatic rationalism: Aldo Rossi, obviously, with his interests in the city and classicism; Ernesto Rogers less obviously; and Carlo Scarpa, who clearly influenced Chipperfield’s interests in the fragment, in history, and in the relationship between survival and new build. What comes across is his interest in the layering of history in his projects – that he is working in a continuum, in contrast to many of his contemporaries, who regard building as a clean sheet. As he stated in a conversation with Peter St. John and Adam Caruso in 1997, ‘I’m not obsessed with the idea of a clean sheet. I think we are in a continuum and that our responsibility is to find clues in memory and context’. I find this helpful in thinking about what he has achieved in Burlington Gardens. It’s a combination of attentiveness to the quality and characteristics of the original building with an intellectual boldness in the insertion of new elements.


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