Published  16/10/2006

Stones of New Delhi Commemorated

Stones of New Delhi Commemorated

The renewal of interest in the British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens is now fostered and encouraged by the Lutyens Trust. It recently obtained copies of the 'Delhi Town Planning Committee Reports' covering the choice of a site for the new Imperial Capital of India, printed in 1913 and setting out the basis for Lutyens' masterpiece. The British Council is planning an exhibition on the work of Sir Edwin Lutyens to take place in New Delhi in 2007. There had been a visit by 42 members of the Trust to New Delhi in 2003. What was significant was the obvious concern of many Indians to be reassured that the visitors felt the buildings were being properly cared for: and there was concern over new high-rise flats being planned in the Lutyens so-called 'Bungalow Zone'. But what now seems to have been the product of remarkable foresight and awareness of local factors, by Lutyens, was the extent to which he allowed indigenous themes and details to shine throug, in buildings such as the Jaipur Column, the elephant guardhouse and, to a fair degree, over plans for gardens, for landscaping and for vegetation. Today, such factors are seen to be a mitigating influence upon those who have sought to oppose imperialist architecture. This was a subtle blending by Lutyens, with an eye to posterity, who well knew what he was doing. As Andrew Wilton claims, 'The much discussed solar topi dome, which I've hitherto thought a trifle bald, verging on the totalitarian, is really an extraordinarily successful balance of motifs from European and Mughal (architecture) creating a highly original form that has been influential in later buildings of independent India'. (An article on Lutyens will follow on this website next month, by Michael Spens).

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