When it was built, perhaps the Cosmic House stood out from the landscape of posh homes on Lansdowne Walk. But today, the facade seems unremarkable. At first glance, all you see are stark white walls, a black gate, an intercom, and an entryway that looks quite ordinary. Until you start noticing the details. That’s really a recurring theme with the Cosmic House—everything requires a closer look.
It has been two years since the world shut down, and three years since the death of Charles Jencks, the famous architect, author, and cultural theorist, whose dream the Cosmic House was. The official website describes it as, “an idiosyncratic private house turned museum, in a residential neighbourhood.” From the start, it’s clear that this was a passion project, a dream house sculpted from ordinary beginnings, a Postmodern dream.
Once the residence of Charles and Maggie Jencks and their children, the design for the Cosmic House as it stands today, was created with the help of their friend, renowned architect, Sir Terry Farrell. Together they crafted something fantastical out of the original structure, which was built in the 1840s.
My first impression is of dazzled bewilderment. It seems almost impossible that a family once resided there, that children played on the lawn or peered through the distinctively shaped windows. In true Postmodern style, each room tells its own story, with the structure, motifs and details coming together to provide a unique narrative, bringing together elements of architecture, art, cosmology, and culture. Slowly, I begin to comprehend the intricacy of the design. I find myself swept along on this visual storytelling journey, just as Jencks intended.