Edwin Lutyens

From Academic Kids

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Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens OM (March 29 1869 - January 1 1944), a British architect, designed many English country houses and was instrumental in the layout and building of New Delhi. He was born and died in London. [His surname is pronounced "Luh-chens."]

He studied Architecture at South Kensington School of Art, London from 1885 to 1887. After college he joined the Ernest George and Harold Ainsworth Peto architectural practice. It was here that he first met Sir Herbert Baker.


His own practice

He began his own practice in 1888, his first commission being a private house at Crooksbury, Farnham, Surrey. During this work, he met the garden designer and horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll. In 1896 he began work on a house for Jekyll at Munstead Wood, Godalming, Surrey. It was the beginning of a fruitful professional partnership that would define the look of many Lutyens country houses.

The "Lutyens-Jekyll" garden overflowed with hardy shrub and herbaceous planting within a firm classicising architecture of stairs and balustraded terraces. This combined style, of the formal with the informal, exemplified by brick paths, softened by billowing herbaceous borders, full of lilies, lupins, delphiniums, and lavender was in direct contrast to the very formal bedding schemes favoured by the previous generation in the Victorian era. This new "natural" style was to define the "English garden" until modern times.

His works

Initially, his designs all followed the Arts and Crafts style, but in the early 1900s his work became more classical in style. His commissions were of a varied nature from private houses to two churches for the new Hampstead Garden Suburb, London to Castle Drogo, Drewsteignton, Devon and on to his contributions to India's new imperial capital New Delhi (where he worked with Herbert Baker). Here he added elements of local architectural styles to his classicism, and based his urbanization scheme on Mughal water gardens.

After the Great War, he was involved with the creation of monuments to commemorate the fallen. The best known of these monuments are the Cenotaph, London and the memorial to the Missing of the Somme, Thiepval. He also designed the War Memorial Gardens in Dublin, which were restored to their full splendour in the 1990s. Other works include the Tower Hill memorial, and a memorial in Victoria Park in Leicester.

He was knighted in 1918, and elected to the Royal Academy in 1921.

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Whilst work continued in New Delhi, Lutyens continued to receive other commissions including several commercial buildings in London and the British Embassy in Washington, DC.

In 1924 he completed the supervision of the construction of what is perhaps his most popular design: Queen Mary's Dolls' House. This four storey Palladian villa was built in 1/12th scale and is now a permanent exhibit in the public area of Windsor Castle. It was not conceived or built as a plaything for children - its goal was to serve as an exhibit of the finest British craftmanship of the period.

He was commissioned in 1929 to design a new Roman Catholic cathedral in Liverpool. Work on this magnificent building started in 1933, but was stopped during the Second World War (after the war the project ended due to a shortage of funding, with only the crypt completed). (The architect of the present Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, which was built over the crypt and consecrated in 1967, was Sir Frederick Gibberd.)

New Delhi

Largely designed by Lutyens, over the last twenty or so years of his career New Delhi was chosen to replace Calcutta as the seat of the British Indian government in 1912; the project was completed in 1929 and officially inaugurated in 1931. In undertaking this project, Lutyens invented his own new order of classical columns etc, which has become know as the "Delhi Order".Unlike the more traditional British architects who came before him, he was both inspired by and incorporated various features from the local and traditional Indian architecture - something most clearly seen in the great drum-mounted Buddhist dome of Rashtrapati Bhavan. This palatial building, containg 340 rooms, is built on an area of some 330 acres (1.3 km²) and incorporates a private garden also designed by Lutyens. The building was designed as the official residence of the Viceroy of India and is now the official residence of the First Citizen of India its President.

The columns at the front entrance of the palace have bells carved into them which Lutyens had designed with the idea that as the bells were silent the British rule would never come to an end! At one time, more than 2,000 people were required to look after the building and serve the Viceroy's household.

The new city contains both the Parliament buildings and government offices and were distinctively built of the local red sandstone using the traditional Mogul style.

When drawing up the plans for New Delhi Lutyens planned for the new city to lie southwest of the walled city of Shahjahanbad.His plans for the ciry also laid out the street plan for New Delhi consisting of wide tree-lined avenues.

Built in the spirit of British colonial rule, the point where the new imperial city and the older native settlement met was intended to be a market; it was here that Lutyens imagined the Indian traders would participate in "the grand shopping centre for the residents of Shahjahanabad and New Delhi", thus giving rise to the present D-shaped market we see today.

Marriage & later life

Two years after she proposed to him and in the face of parental disapproval, Lutyens married Lady Emily Lytton, daughter of Edward Bulwer-Lytton (the 1st Earl of Lytton), a former Viceroy of India, on 4 August, 1897 at Knebworth, Hertfordshire. They had five children but the union was largely unsatisfactory, practically from the start. The Lutyens' marriage quickly deterioriated, with Lady Emily turning her interest to theosophy and Eastern religions and a fascination -- emotional and philosophical -- with the guru Jiddu Krishnamurti.

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Plans for the Ferry Inn

The couple's daughter Elisabeth Lutyens (1904-1984) became a well-known composer; another daughter, Mary Lutyens, became a writer known for her books about Krishnamurti.

In the later years of his life, Luytens suffered with several bouts of pneumonia. In the early 1940s he was diagnosed with cancer. He died on New Year's Day in 1944.

In 2004, the Indian Government announced that it was demolishing hundreds of private villas that were part of Lutyens' original scheme for New Delhi to make way for high-rise apartment blocks for the poor.

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