Towards a Symbolic Architecture

Jencks, Author, Charles Jencks, Author Rizzoli International Publications $60 (248p) ISBN 978-0-8478-0659-1
Jencks's Thematic House in London, a reworking of an 1840s townhouse, fulfills his view that modern architecture can embody personal symbolism. The entrance room, called the Cosmic Oval, is meant to suggest the Big Bang. On its walls, huge, fiery figures of Thomas Jefferson, Hannah Arendt and Pythagoras debate and ponder. Most of the other rooms illustrate a specific theme, with arcane borrowings that range from Baroque to Art Nouveau. Depending upon the viewer's taste, this microcosm of the universe is either a messy, eclectic riot of styles or a dream vision. An influential architect and critic, Jencks discusses Egypt's pyramids, Chinese gardens and Gaudi's buildings as examples of symbolic architecture. While one can applaud his plea to reunite the everyday with the cosmos, his own buildings directed to this end are cold and contrived. The rest of this lavishly illustrated essay deals with the Elemental House in Los Angeles, a studio isolated in the woods and a converted Scottish farm, all designed or built by Jencks. December
Reviewed on: 09/01/1985
Release date: 09/01/1985
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