David Chipperfield: Not Everything Has to be Champagne

Born in London in 1953, David Chipper eld is unquestionably one of the most important gures today on the international architectural scene. His stock has risen only higher with the opening this autumn of the Neues Museum in Berlin, reconstructed based on his project.

David Chipperfield: Not Everything Has to be Champagne

The secret of this architect’s success comes down to his extraordinary versatility. He builds equally well in stone and concrete, wood and metal, buildings tall and low-rise, radically modern or carefully tted into their historic surroundings. Each one of Chipper eld’s buildings is designed to hold its head up high, they do not ght shy of being grand or monumental, they do not aim to be ‘just a building’.

He can put together façades from endless rows of windows and produce an image to underscore the might of justice, as he did with the Barcelona law courts complex. Or else he can marshal a row of concrete columns in such a way as to make the Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach am Neckar come across as a true temple of poetry. He extended the small cemetery on the island of San Michele in Venice — and you are stopped in your tracks by the impact made by those grey walls, so imbued are they with the power of death.

All this bears witness to Chipper eld’s ability to t himself into very diverse landscapes and cultures (this was shown yet again by his recent works in China). At the same time, he could never be accused of being imitative. It is impossible to encapsulate Chipper eld’s signature style. And yet at the same time it is always recognisable.

BBC Scotland Headquarters on Pacific Quay, Glasgow, United Kingdom. 2001–20006BBC Scotland Headquarters on Pacific Quay, Glasgow, United Kingdom. 2001–20006 © Christian Richters / David Chipperfield Architects, London

Museum of Modern Literature. Marbach am Neckar, Germany. 2002–2006  View from the exterior and Colonnade viewing down the hill, interiorsMuseum of Modern Literature. Marbach am Neckar, Germany. 2002–2006 View from the exterior and Colonnade viewing down the hill, interiors © David Chipperfield Architects, London

Liangzhu Culture Museum. Hangzhou, China, 2003–2007Liangzhu Culture Museum. Hangzhou, China, 2003–2007 © David Chipperfield Architects, London

Main images © David Chipperfield Architects, London