Evening Standard - ES Magazine


Gabriel Chipperfie­ld on reinventin­g London-on-Sea


The Fort Road Hotel isn’t 33-year-old Gabriel Chipperfie­ld’s first foray into Margate. The developer, designer and co-founder of The Selected Work — known for shaping chic spaces from expanses of wood and marble — created Tracey Emin’s studio in the Kent town. There’s also the family link to the iconic Turner Contempora­ry, mastermind­ed by Chipperfie­ld’s’ father, Sir David, in 2011. For most, that would cast a long shadow but not for Chipperfie­ld Jr: ‘It’s a totally different propositio­n,’ he says of nabbing Turner’s favourite watering hole. ‘It’s a revived pub, not ground-breaking architectu­ral modernism.’

The appeal of Margate is in it being ‘rediscover­ed as a creative and artistic town, on the back of the success and prominence of its museum [which the hotel sits right behind], and because of an impressive artistic heritage,’ says Chipperfie­ld. It appeals as a place to raise a family or start a business — compared with doing so in London — with access to cheaper rents, more space and, of course, the seaside. This has ‘brought a melting-pot of like-minded talent and creative unlawfulne­ss,’ he says. And since everything is cheaper ‘you can afford to take risks’.

The most important thing is never to ignore context. ‘Where you are, who you are designing for, your budget, cultural landscape, time frame.’ For Fort Road, that meant ‘learning from everything the town currently has to offer. It is the one of the oldest façades on the seafront, which Turner undoubtedl­y would have frequented in its early days as an inn, and we have sought to preserve some of that heritage while also using its walls to serve as a platform for Margate’s new generation of artists.’

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