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The Architectural Prowess and Timelessness of Sir Edwin Lutyens Buildings

Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) was born in London. He has engendered several country houses, war memorials, and public buildings. The world has known of his architectural mastery since the 1930s. His distinct style has been easily translated into buildings around the world; the Munstead Wood in Surrey, the Hyderabad House in New Delhi, and The Australian National Memorial – Villers-Bretonneux in France; amongst others.

Edwin Lutyens Architecture Style

Quintessential Edwin Lutyens architect style consists of blending traditional elements with modern elements. His work is characterized by a profound understanding of materials, attention to detail, and a keen sense of proportion. This can be seen in his architectural planning of several buildings in New Delhi. Although reluctantly, he adhered to the vernacular architecture styles of India. Lutyens was never a fan of ‘Modern’ architectural trends. Therefore, most of Sir Edwin Lutyens Buildings are a nod to the neoclassical and traditional architectural styles. 

Courtesy – Country Life

Edwin Lutyens Buildings in India

In the early 20th century, he was at his peak. This is evident in the New Delhi design by Edwin Lutyens. Later, the city would come to serve as the seat of the Indian Government. Thus, the city is seldom known as Lutyens’ Delhi. Sir Edwin Lutyens also designed the Parliament House (not the new one) amongst other splendid buildings.

Rashtrapati Bhavan 

The use of a drum-mounted Buddhist dome in the Rasthrapati Bhavan (formerly Viceroy’s House) showcases his prowess at designing buildings by the vernacular. At first, he envisioned the building in classical European and Baroque styles. However, he unreluctantly added motifs from the older Indo-Saracenic architecture to appease the public sentiment. Hence, we may see the use of ‘chajjas’ and ‘chhatris’. These are both decorative and functional. The ‘chajjas’ veil the windows from the harsh sunlight., while the ‘chhatris’, breaks the monotony of flat roofs (one where the domes weren’t used). He even used the ‘jaalis’ inspired by the Rajasthani vernacular architecture.

Courtesy – Lutyens’ Delhi

Despite containing several elements of the Indo Saracenic architecture, the style of the Rashtrapati Bhavan would fit in with the Buddhist Mauryan art as well. In the numerous columns, one may see the motifs of acanthus leaves. These columns were similar to the ones found in Hindu or Jain temples. The top of the column features a bell signifying the end of the British Raj. He also designed the ‘Amrit Udyan’ garden and the courtyard. 

India Gate, New Delhi

Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker designed and built the India Gate to honour the soldiers who lost their lives in World War I. The names of 13,313 personnel have been inscribed on the Gate. The monument has seldom been referred to as an arch of triumph due to its similarity with the Roman triumphal arches and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Edwin Lutyens wished to remove all the allegories of religion from the building, therefore, the cultural-specific iconography is missing.

Courtesy – Lowy Institute

The arch is oblong and features four arches from each side. However, the arches from the longer (front and back) sides are higher and longer in comparison. The ceilings and the underside of the arches feature several coffers. At the top of the gate, the cornice carries two ‘sun’ motifs. The inscription reads ‘INDIA’ on both sides. The front and the back carry the inscription of the years 1914 (MCMXIV) and 1919 (MCMXIX) alluding to the years World War I was fought in.

Image Courtesy – BBC

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