Destinations | Perfect Weekend

David Chipperfield’s London

Renowned for his modernist outlook, British architect David Chipperfield has an acclaimed portfolio that includes Yorkshire’s Hepworth Museum and the newly restored Neues Museum in Berlin.

October 11 2009
Harriet Torry

“At least 80 per cent of my work is abroad, so it’s a house rule that I’m back home in London on Friday night. The weekend tends to be fairly sacred. I’m at my table most of the time doing papers and writing letters, but it’s a pleasure after a week of travel.

We have several family rituals, one of which is having breakfast together. We have orange juice and eggs, and my wife, Evelyn, often cooks muffins. Three of my kids live here: Gabriel, 20, Raphael, 19, and Celeste, 17. My son from my first marriage, Chester, is 26 and lives in Hackney. The boys like to watch football in the winter, especially when West Ham are playing, so if there’s a big match going on, we plan our day around it. We watch any rugby match that’s on, too.

If there’s a new exhibition at the Tate or the Royal Academy we will try to go. One of the great treats of living in Marylebone is that you’re in the centre of London and can walk to everything. You’ve got this relationship with the city; you feel connected to its tempo.

This area has come up a lot in the past 10 years. Marylebone High Street was run-down, but now food shops have moved back in and it has become more like a traditional local high street again. Daunt Books (pictured) has a good range of books, and staff who know about what they’re selling. There’s a very good butcher, The Ginger Pig, and Evelyn likes La Fromagerie for fruit and vegetables.

Invariably, on Saturday night we go to the theatre: to the Old Vic, the Donmar, the Almeida or the National. Evelyn works hard to make sure there’s a family buy-in to most things we do. We recently saw Hamlet at the Donmar with Jude Law and our friend Peter Eyre, which was very good, and an interesting monologue on Berlin by David Hare at the National. I’m quite fond of the National Theatre; I think it works well as a piece of modern architecture.

If the kids are out partying, Evelyn and I might go to the cinema instead. We’ll walk over to the Screen on Baker Street and go to a restaurant afterwards – The Wolseley or Scott’s. If we don’t want to eat, we’ll go for a drink at Claridge’s or The Connaught. Evelyn’s not really a pub person, so we go to hotel bars instead.

Our lives are a bit frenetic, so the weekend is an opportunity to recalibrate. I go through all the issues that have been left open during the week, like working out how to solve a design problem. My office is usually working on 30 projects at any one time. They all go at different speeds, with different crises, or lulls, that require input from me. Family is a huge distraction from work. If I didn’t have that, I’d probably spend more hours trying to resolve issues that I’m not in a position to resolve.

On Sunday afternoons we go to the Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall because it has such a good swimming pool. Evelyn and the kids are keen swimmers, and I try to play squash with them every weekend. The kids have become so much better than me now that it’s quite a futile exercise, to be honest.

Sunday evening is usually early dinner at a Chinese or Japanese restaurant. We tend to go to Royal China on Baker Street, or Yumi or Yauatcha in the West End. I used to have an office in Japan and have spent a lot of time there. It certainly influenced me: the incredible attention to detail, and the way ordinary rituals are given great importance, such as the way a gift is wrapped in a department store, or a cup of tea is carefully presented.

It may seem unadventurous, but the weekend is a chance to have a semblance of a domestic life. At the same time, I can think about work projects; it’s very much free time for the mind too.”

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