Inside Cosmic House: A Postmodern Icon

3 min read  ·  02 Mar 2023

HENI Talks presents Inside Cosmic House: A Postmodern Icon.

Discover the captivating world of Cosmic House, a Grade-I-listed London treasure of Postmodernist architecture and design, through the lens of HENI Talks' latest film, "Inside Cosmic House: A Postmodern Icon." Join writer, architect, and designer Edwin Heathcote, Keeper of Memory at Cosmic House, as he illuminates the history and significance behind this extraordinary residence, where Postmodernism's playful spirit and experimental symbolism intertwine.

Cosmic House, the brainchild of architectural historian and writer Charles Jencks (1939–2019), stands as a testament to the fleeting yet transformative era of Postmodernism. Jencks was a leading figure of the movement, defining the end of the Modernist era and introducing the mentality that came to dominate Postmodernism. He believed that Modernist architecture, particularly the minimalist monoliths of the late 1960s and early 1970s, lacked symbolic meaning, hindering people from connecting to it. Jencks’ Postmodernism, in contrast, embraced a vibrant fusion of historical references, giving rise to an exuberant architectural style. It is only fitting that Jencks' own passion project, Cosmic House, stands as 'a built manifesto for Postmodernism’, the movement he helped to define.

Nestled amidst the Victorian townhouses of London's affluent Holland Park neighbourhood, Cosmic House, designed in 1978, may seem an unlikely addition. However, Heathcote reveals how Jencks' Postmodernism was deeply rooted in architectural history, allowing Cosmic House’s exterior to blend harmoniously with its surroundings while maintaining its subtle innovations and playful ironies.

Delve into the details of Cosmic House as Heathcote reveals the genius behind Jencks' innovative design and its myriad manifestations across this stunningly preserved property. Seeking to infuse his design with a coherent philosophy, which he believed all great architectural periods possessed, Jencks took his inspiration for Cosmic House from the human relationship to the cosmos. This guiding theme permeates Cosmic House, imbuing it with both aesthetic beauty and profound symbolism. Sprinkled throughout the house too are references to great architecture of the past and distinct features designed by other leading artists who helped to shape Postmodernism. Heathcote illuminates each of them with his own keen eye for design.

Embark on this immersive architectural journey and prepare to embrace Cosmic House's unique charm. Allow HENI Talks and Edwin Heathcote to reveal how this unique architectural treasure is so much more than the private home of a great designer – it is truly a vision for the Postmodernism movement made manifest.