Charles Jencks at the Garden Museum

I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by eminent Landscape Architect and Post-Modern theorist, Charles Jencks last week at the Garden Museum, in which he spoke about The Garden of Cosmic Speculation and his ongoing projects including Parco Portello, Milan & Namsan Park, Seoul in preparation of the EcoGeo Festival 2013.

I have always been a fan of Jencks and his land art. His iconic organo-scientific forms in landscape present a breathtaking and long-lasting vista, which I feel personally reaches a level of perfection that few other contemporary landscape architects can achieve.

Throughout the past few decades there are many examples of modern landscape architecture pandering to fashion and contemporary tastes, relying on extraneous gimmick, much of which now looks tired and dated. Whereas Jencks’ work offers a fluid design ethic so compatible with the classic view of nature, harking back to an age of poetry, underpinned by good solid scientific knowledge, that I can imagine his work being appreciated for generations to come, at the very least. His practical approach to landscape architecture, viewing the landscape as art being the precedent, it is fortunate that many of his clients are drawn to him via reputation. Ensuring that his commissioned work both as design construct and ethical vision reflects the natural grandeur of more personal works such as  his family home, Portrack House, near Dumfries.

The question of Gaia or sustainability was put to him at the lecture to which his response was that the two are far from incompatible, and in fact an ethos of both streams of thought should be combined within the field. Aesthetics govern our discipline but that should sit within a greater need for spaces to commune with fellow man if not perhaps ourselves, whether we consciously comprehend all that we see or not.

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