A Garden of Possibilities

Renowned landscape architect and designer Charles Jencks recently visited CERN along with the architect of the Globe, Hervé Dessimoz, to investigate the possibility of creating a cosmic-inspired garden at the entrance to the Laboratory.


Left to right: Charles Jencks, Peter Higgs, Rolf Heuer in the garden of cosmic speculation.
Photo credit: University of Edinburgh/Maverick photo agency

Charles Jencks is a master at designing whimsical, intriguing outdoor spaces that hold a much deeper meaning than just an interesting view. His Garden of Cosmic Speculation at his home in Scotland uses designs recalling cosmic forces, DNA, organic cells, spirals of time, black holes and the Universe, made with landform, plants, sculpture and water to re-shape the natural landscape.

One of the possible symbols for CERN that came to his mind was the cosmic uroborus, an ancient Egyptian symbol of a snake eating its own tail dating back to 1600 BC. “Many scientists have discussed this as a possible image for explaining to the public how size works, from the very small all the way up to the size of the Universe,” said Jencks. “One of the great advantages of this symbol is that it is universally recognised by scientists, allowing a common iconography.” The uroborus conveys the message that the physics of the very large and the physics of the very small address the same basic questions.

The new landscaped space, if it goes ahead, would include the area surrounding the Globe of Science and Innovation, as well as the area across the road near the Reception in Building 33, and could include a new auditorium for CERN use and public events. Links to Prévessin and Meyrin would also be foreseen. The iconic image of the uroborus would encircle the Globe. “Instead of a head and tail I’ve put two mounds with water coming down them and if you look closer you can see that the mounds are question marks because there are still many unanswered questions,” said Jencks. “The uroborus would provide a buffer against the traffic and noise and become an inner garden in a larger garden.”

Although at this stage of the project no external fundraising has begun, Jencks’ ideas for a new landscape certainly seem very inspiring.

To see some of his previous projects, visit www.charlesjencks.com.




by Carolyn Lee