Charles Jencks

Posted in Articles, Uncategorized with tags , , on October 17, 2019 by landscapeislapinski

Architectural historian, academic and champion of postmodernism who co-founded Maggie’s Centres to offer support to cancer sufferers

October 16 2019, 12:01am,
The Times

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Charles Jencks in 2015 at Crawick Multiverse, a land art installation that he developed on the site of a former open-cast coalmine in Dumfries and Galloway
Charles Jencks in 2015 at Crawick Multiverse, a land art installation that he developed on the site of a former open-cast coalmine in Dumfries and Galloway
TIMES NEWSPAPERS
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Maggie Keswick Jencks had just been told that she had three months to live. The silence that followed was broken by the doctor saying that there were other patients waiting. She was then ushered into a busy hospital corridor.

Maggie would live for another two years, giving her and her husband, Charles Jencks, precious time to envision a new type of cancer support centre that would enable terminally ill people to live out the rest of their lives in a more welcoming environment than amid the harsh strip-lighting, uncomfortable plastic chairs and impersonal corridors that she had to endure.

Days before Maggie died of breast cancer in June 1995, she and Charles sat on a bed and unfolded the designs for the first Maggie’s Centre, where people could retreat to after visiting the nearby Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. The building, designed by Richard Murphy, was opened in 1996.

As one of the world’s most respected architectural theorists, Charles Jencks evangelised for his wife’s idea among the world-famous architects in his contacts book. They queued up to help, waiving their usual stellar fees. Frank Gehry designed a Maggie’s Centre in Dundee in 2003; Zaha Hadid, one in Kircaldy, Fife, in 2006; Richard Rogers, one in Hammersmith, west London, which won the Stirling Prize, in 2009; and Norman Foster, one in Manchester in 2016. Each would be identifiable by the signature motifs of their designers, but were essentially simple spaces, designed around a central kitchen hub where people could drink tea and talk.

The 26 Maggie’s Centres are also a testament to Jencks’s manifesto to encourage a more thoughtful architectural language, rooted in setting, history and context. The US-born theorist was arguably the chief prophet of Post-Modernism (he always insisted on a capital P and hyphenation) with his bestselling 1977 book The Language of Post-Modern Architecture.

Its famous opening line rejoices in the demolition of the vast, hideously ugly Pruitt-Igoe housing project in America: “Modern architecture died in St Louis, Missouri, on July 15, 1972, at 3.32pm (or thereabouts).”

The monumental blocks represented everything that was iniquitous about the modern movement that had started in the early 20th century and dominated postwar town planning of serried, pared-down housing blocks and office towers. Jencks argued that architecture was too important to be hijacked by one movement, however well-meaning, in the name of social progress. He called for pluralism and ornamentation; the discipline must reconnect with history so that buildings could become legible again.

Tall with an elegant attire topped by a fedora, Jencks was as stylish as the celebrated house he rebuilt in Holland Park that was grade I listed in 2018.

He revelled in publicly debating with heavyweights from the architecture world, his friendliness and openness making him the ideal polemicist. He never allowed himself to be drawn into childish feuds. Neither was he chained to orthodoxy, even arguing that the great Swiss modernist Le Corbusier had shown postmodernist tendencies in designing the Ronchamp chapel.

Above all, Jencks’s writing had a powerful influence on the built environment. The tag he helped to popularise gave its name to some of the most flamboyant and controversial buildings of the 1980s and 1990s, such as Terry Farrell’s Charing Cross station. With Britain in the grip of a building boom during the Thatcher years, luridly coloured shopping centres sprang up with ironic historical references such as classical pediments or Egyptian-style columns. If these were the worst excesses of the movement, Jencks preached a deeper, more lyrical sensibility steeped in his preoccupation with cosmology.

In his sixties Jencks would create his own body of work to explore his ideas about the universe after reinventing himself as a landscape architect. This started when his wife encouraged him to design the garden of their home, Portrack House, Dumfriesshire.

The result was the Garden of Cosmic Speculation in 2003. He and Maggie, herself a renowned garden designer, collaborated on the concept to create monumental depictions of black holes, fractals, DNA, chaos theory and the double helix, sprawled over 12 hectares. Jencks then persuaded his wife to convert a swamp on the estate into a swimming lake. “She had been considering buying a Hockney,” Jencks said. “I said this would be much cheaper and nobody could steal it.”

Not content with one universe, Jencks persuaded the Duke of Buccleuch to fund a project to convert a former open-cast mine near Sanquhar, Dumfries and Galloway, into a 55-acre landform. Crawick Multiverse is a series of hills and walkways that represent many universes.

Jencks would confidently expound on such abstruse concepts with astrophysicists at the symposiums that the duke hosted at Drumlanrig Castle. He held his own. “I loved his openness to barmy ideas,” said Clive Aslet, who interviewed Jencks for the Financial Times in 2015. “ He spoke with a light Maryland drawl. A Brit wouldn’t have got away with it.”

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The Black Hole terrace at the Garden of Cosmic Speculation
The Black Hole terrace at the Garden of Cosmic Speculation
ALAMY

Charles Alexander Jencks was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1939 into a wealthy family that had made its fortune from safety-deposit boxes. His father, Gardner Platt Jencks, was a composer and his mother was Ruth DeWitt Pearl. He attended Brooks School in North Andover, Massachusetts, and studied English at Harvard, staying on to do a master’s in architecture. In 1965 he moved to the UK to study for a doctorate in architectural history at University College London.

Jencks’s thesis was in 1973 adapted into Modern Movements in Architecture, which claimed that some variations on modernist ideas were being suppressed. The Language of Post-Modern Architecture matured his ideas of how architecture should evolve, which he explored farther in 1980 with his contribution to the Venice Architecture Biennale, which has been cited as a turning point for architecture. Jencks would write more than 30 books.

His first marriage to Pamela Balding in 1960 ended in 1973. He is survived by their two sons; Cosimo works for the conglomerate Jardine Matheson in Vietnam and Justin works as a landscape designer in Shanghai.

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Charles Jencks’s Life Mounds at Jupiter Artland sculpture park and art gallery near Edinburgh
Charles Jencks’s Life Mounds at Jupiter Artland sculpture park and art gallery near Edinburgh
TIMES NEWSPAPERS

In 1978 Jencks married Maggie Keswick, a landscape designer and scion of the Scottish family that owns Jardine Matheson. They met at the Architectural Association in London, where he was teaching and she was a student. He is survived by their son, John, a film-maker, and Lily, an architect. In 2006 he married Louisa Lane Fox, the mother of Henry and Martha Lane Fox (Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho), the founder of lastminute.com.

Jencks lectured around the world. His friend Magnus Linklater recalled attending a lecture by Jencks that was scheduled for 90 minutes and lasted for three hours. “He was infectious, gregarious, unstoppable and would talk till the cows came home,” Linklater said.

Recognised as one of Britain’s leading landscape architects, Jencks picked up commissions around the world. One of his last big projects was Northumberlandia (2012), a sculpture of a reclining woman that is thought to be the largest depiction of a female form in the world.

A lover of geology who collected rocks, Jencks was also an inveterate categoriser of architecture. His library was housed at the Victorian house in Holland Park, London, that he reconfigured with the help of the architect Terry Farrell. In it is a Jacuzzi created by Piers Gough that is an inversion of the dome of Borromini’s church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane in Rome. “Heaven is sitting in a Jacuzzi by Borromini eating foie gras,” Jencks said.

Jencks kept his library on the history of architecture in bookshelves shaped like a building from the period the volumes represented. The house is wittily filled to the brim with objects and designs, rather in the manner of Sir John Soane’s Museum in Holborn. As with the home of the Georgian architect, whom Jencks resembled in his entrepreneurism of ideas, there are plans to open the house to the public.

He loved giving personal tours of the house. Maggie indulged him to a point at which there was a door on which was attached a sign reading: “Post-Modernism stops here.”

Charles Jencks, architectural historian, was born on June 21, 1939. He died of cancer on October 13, 2019, aged 80

House Reed, Erinvale Estate, Somerset West, City of Cape Town, South Africa

Posted in Build works, Company profile: Simon Lapinski Landscapes and Gardens, Design works, Simon Lapinski Landscapes and Gardens, South African Projects, Website: www.simpnlapinski.com with tags , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2017 by landscapeislapinski

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House Moore Presentation Sheets

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Eco Living – Pro Landscaper Africa Magazine March 2017

Posted in Publications with tags , , , , , , , on March 25, 2017 by landscapeislapinski

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Pro Landscaper Africa Magazine March 2017

Posted in Publications with tags , , , , , , on March 25, 2017 by landscapeislapinski

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Keep off the grass

Posted in Articles with tags , , on May 16, 2016 by landscapeislapinski

Keep off the grass: Research confirms that highly manicured lawns produce more greenhouse gases than they soak up.

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Urban gardens were always considered good for the planet, but a new study has turned that belief on its head.
Once the energy expended by mowing, fertiliser use and watering are taken into account, lawns actually produce more greenhouse gases than they soak up (Rex) Rex
A well-kept lawn has a special place in the hearts of many a house-proud gardener. It has been described as Britain’s “greatest contribution to the visual culture of Europe”, while in the French comic book Astérix in Britain, the Romans are prevented from chasing after the heroes by a Briton armed with a spear who is furious they are ruining his highly manicured turf despite a Keep Off the Grass sign.
However, new research confirms what some environmentalists have long suspected: that the lawn has a bigger problem than rampaging legionaries. It is a significant source of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
But the scientists behind the study believe it is still possible to create a magnificent expanse of green sward if a number of simple steps are taken to reduce its impact on the planet.
Grass lawns soak up carbon dioxide, which is stored in the soil after the cut grass rots and so, like trees, they are considered good for the planet. But Dr Chuanhui Gu of Appalachian State University in the US says that once the energy expended by mowing, fertiliser use and watering are taken into account, lawns actually produce more greenhouse gases than they soak up.
In a paper for the Journal of Environmental Management, he and his co-authors said they had found that a hectare of lawn in Nashville, Tennessee, produced greenhouse gases equivalent to 697 to 2,443kg of carbon dioxide a year. The higher figure is equivalent to a flight more than halfway around the world.
Dr Gu said the findings would vary based on the local climate, but the general message would apply to most areas. Nashville gets about the same amount of rain as Glasgow and temperatures range from 30C in summer to below freezing in winter.
“Climate change emissions from urban lawns and gardens are often kind of neglected by people, even scientists,” he said. “We found that the urban turf grass system actually contributes to global warming. It’s a lot. It’s about two-thirds of the carbon emissions from agricultural fields [of the same area].” This contradicts previous beliefs that urban lawns generally absorb more carbon dioxide than they produce and are therefore good for the planet.
However, there is hope for environmentally friendly gardeners loath to dig up their lawns. “We had to find a balance between aesthetic concerns and environmental concerns,” Dr Gu said. “On the one hand, we want to reduce fertiliser use, but on the other hand people want to have a nice, green, beautiful lawn in their garden.”
His team developed a maintenance plan that he said typically reduced the emissions by up to 70 per cent, while still producing a pleasant effect. He said mowing should be done about half as frequently – perhaps once a fortnight instead of once a week – with watering kept to a minimum.
And fertiliser – which produces nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas about 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide and uses a lot of energy to produce – should be used sparingly, ideally only when the grass is newly planted. Instead, grass cuttings should be left on the lawn as a natural alternative.
“Clipping recycling is a very good way to save the environment and also potentially save people money. It’s a win-win situation,” Dr Gu said. “Grass clippings are a perfect nutrient source for turf grass. It’s actually better than fertiliser.”
Guy Barter, chief horticultural adviser to the Royal Horticultural Society, backed the general approach. Mowing less often was a “good idea” and leaving cuttings on the lawn was also sensible, although he suggested using a mulching mower that chops up the leaves so they can sink down into the grass.
Maintenance depended on what the lawn was used for. “If it’s just to look nice or for the children to have a kickabout, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be taller,” Mr Barter said. “You can treat it as a wild flower area, grow bulbs and just mow it twice a year or you could mow paths through it and let the rest grow taller.”
Clive Aslet, editor at large of Country Life, said that lawns were “very much part of the English soul”. He said: “It was not for nothing that we invented the game of lawn tennis. We think of ourselves as a nation of gardeners. The Picturesque movement, which brought the lawn up to the doors of country houses, has been called our greatest contribution to Europe’s visual culture.”
However, he added: “I’m not sure if the cult of the lawn isn’t a bit outmoded now. A beautiful lawn requires a great amount of effort and probably chemical help for practically zero wildlife benefit. Nothing better than going to sleep on a good lawn during the summer, though.”

Ian Johnston – Independent UK
Sunday 18 January 2015

Pro Landscaper Africa Magazine April 2016 Edition

Posted in Publications with tags , , , , , , , on May 16, 2016 by landscapeislapinski

Managed to sneak into this months Pro Landscaper Africa Magazines ‘Little Interview’ section.

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Little Interview

Pro Landscaper Africa Magazine April 2016 Edition

Posted in Publications with tags , on May 12, 2016 by landscapeislapinski
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Front Cover

House Saaiman, Irene Avenue, Somerset West, Western Cape, SA

Posted in Build works, Company profile: Simon Lapinski Landscapes and Gardens, Design works, Simon Lapinski Landscapes and Gardens, South African Projects, Website: www.simpnlapinski.com with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2016 by landscapeislapinski
Front Garden Concept Plan

Front Garden Concept Plan

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Project Images Driveway Entrance

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Work Stages Front Garden Gate Pathway

Work Stages Front Garden Gate Pathway

Work Stages Front Garden Gate Entrance

Work Stages Front Garden Gate Entrance

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Work Stages Front Garden

Work Stages Front Garden

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Rear Garden Concept

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Olive Grove, Rome Glen, Somerset West, Western Cape, SA

Posted in Build works, Company profile: Simon Lapinski Landscapes and Gardens, Design works, Simon Lapinski Landscapes and Gardens, South African Projects, Website: www.simpnlapinski.com with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2016 by landscapeislapinski
Concept Plan

Concept Plan

Concept Visualisations

Concept Visualisations

Work Stages

Work Stages

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House Campbell Young, Castle Rising, Somerset West, Western Cape, SA

Posted in Build works, Company profile: Simon Lapinski Landscapes and Gardens, Design works, Simon Lapinski Landscapes and Gardens, South African Projects, Website: www.simpnlapinski.com with tags , , , , , , , on March 4, 2016 by landscapeislapinski
Landscape Plan

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Eastern Garden Work Stages

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Rear Garden Work Stages

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Western Garden Work Stages

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Front Garden Work Stages

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Front Garden Completion