The Cosmic House West London, Holland Park Home by Charles Jencks, Residential Architecture Photos
The Cosmic House in Holland Park
17 June 2021
The Cosmic House Holland Park To Open
Design: Charles Jencks Architect
Location: London, England, UK
Photos by Sue Barr
Charles Jencks’ Post-modernist Masterpiece To Open To The Public
Thursday 17th of June 2021 – The Cosmic House in Holland Park, the former home of the globally renowned architectural historian and cultural theorist, Charles Jencks (1939 -2019) will open to the public on 24 September 2021 as a museum and archive which will host a programme of exhibitions, talks, and residencies.
The Cosmic House is one of the world’s most important examples of postmodern architecture and design and the UK’s only Grade I listed Post War home. Begun in 1978, the conversion of the house was a collaboration between Charles and Maggie Jencks and the architect Terry Farrell with contributions from Piers Gough, Eduardo Paolozzi, Michael Graves, Allen Jones and others. As the spiritual home of Postmodernist design, it hosted conversations with the leading architects and thinkers of the day. Its symbolic architecture, complex iconography and cosmic references are all imbued with Jencks’ characteristic learning and wit.
The house will be open to the public for small groups, providing an opportunity to explore the remarkable interior close up.
The newly established Jencks Foundation will cultivate and build on the legacy of Charles Jencks’ provocative and wide ranging work. It will act as a cultural laboratory and promote critical experimentation in historic, artistic and scientific research through grants and residencies, and a related programme of exhibitions, lectures, and publications.
It will also oversee and preserve Jencks’ archive and extensive library and open these key resources to encourage the study of the architecture and culture of the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries.
The Jencks Foundation’s inaugural programme will develop from interpretation of and research into the archives of The Cosmic House, and its first exhibition will be an exploration of materials relating to the design of the house itself. The Jencks Foundation’s public programme will be promoted through a network of partnerships in London and internationally.
Lily Jencks, co-designer of the new gallery at The Cosmic House and Director of the Jencks Foundation, said: “My parents designed the Cosmic House as a playful polemic. With the Jencks Foundation we hope it will continue to provoke the cultural conversation, and provide a platform for those engaging with the broadest and deepest meaning in architecture, helping with the patient search for its cosmic context.”
Eszter Steierhoffer, Artistic Director of the Jencks Foundation, said: “The Jencks Foundation will become a new cultural hub in London. Its public programme will revolve around thematic seasons inspired by the Jencks Archive. It will foreground the hybrid connections between architecture and other disciplines, and invite artists, designers and researchers to experiment with the postmodern.”
Edwin Heathcote, Chair of the Steering Group said: “I was anointed ‘Keeper of Meaning’ by Charles Jencks. It is the most typically and wonderfully Jencksian job description. The Cosmic House is a manifesto of Post Modernism, rich, kitsch and endlessly inventive. The Jencks Foundation aims to be for contemporary architectural and cultural discourse what the house was for its era, a place of conversation, thinking and meaning.”
The Winter Room has a fireplace designed by Michael Graves with Celia Scott’s bust of Hephaestus looking over the room with Chinese Scholar’s Rocks solid dynamics replacing the fire’s flames. The view shows the layering of space with views into the Spring, Summer and Autumn rooms (views through the seasons):
Charles Jencks and The Cosmic House
Charles Jencks (1939-2019) was the leading proponent of Postmodernism, a writer, critic and also later a landscape designer, he was instrumental in formulating the ideas and theory around Postmodernism and architecture and broader culture and, through his books, in making those ideas accessible and universal.
The Architectural Library is Charles’ study with a tent-like roof painted to be like the sky, with its ‘City of Books’ designed by Charles so that each bookshelf relates to the thematic style or individual architect whose books are collected therein:
Born in Baltimore, he studied at Harvard and was inspired by the building of Le Corbusier’s Carpenter Centre to go on to study architecture, first in the US and then in London where he moved and stayed. His books, including Modern Movements in Architecture and The Language of Post-Modern Architecture were published in multiple editions and were translated into dozens of languages making him, arguably, the best-known and most influential architecture critic and writer of his era.
He designed The Cosmic House, based in a Victorian villa in London’s Holland Park, with his wife Maggie and the architect Terry Farrell in 1978. The interior features contributions from and collaborations with other architects and artists including Michael Graves, Piers Gough, Eduardo Paolozzi, Allen Jones and others.
Together with Maggie, Jencks founded/commissioned the Maggie’s Centres, a network of support centres for cancer care based in buildings designed by internationally renowned architects including their friends Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster and others. Maggie died from cancer in 1995.
Charles Jencks continued to live at the Cosmic House with his children, John and Lily and with his wife Louisa Lane Fox.
The new Exhibition Room with the evolution of scientific representations of the sun in the ceiling lights, looking out to the Time Garden, with a malachite floor and sculpture by Charles and Lily Jencks of the sun and earth above:
The Cosmic House London Home
Information for visits:
The Cosmic House will be open on 24 September 2021.
Visits can be booked through the website www.thecosmichouse.com from September.
Photos: Sue Barr
The Cosmic House Holland Park images / information received 170621
Location: Holland Park, West London, England, UK
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