Architectural Research Quarterly

history

Unlocking Lutyens: a gateway to the hidden legacy of John Pell and Sir Christopher Wren

Dennis Radford and Douglas Cawthornea1

a1 The Leicester School of Architecture De Montfort University The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH UK DCawthorne@dmu.ac.uk

The work and the life of the English architect Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens (1869–1944) have been extensively documented over the past hundred years and clearly show a career with at least two phases. The first is characterised by the design of private country houses in the Arts and Crafts style and, in collaboration with the horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll, the development of their gardens. The second begins around 1900 and reflects a shift towards Neo-Classicism, initially in country houses and later in a wider range of larger public buildings and monuments both in England and abroad. Lutyens developed his use of the Neo-Classical idiom throughout the latter part of his career into a unique style of design which Arthur Stanley George Butler has termed his ‘elemental mode’. This was characterised by a highly controlled use of form and mass, apparent adherence to rules of Classical proportioning and the sparing use of symbolic Classical motifs. However, very little is known with any certainty about how Lutyens actually achieved this style, in particular what role was attributable to intuition and good taste, as is often assumed, and how much may have been attributable to quantitative and formalised methods of design. Circumstantial evidence exists that strongly suggests that quantitative analytical methods may have been used in a method which drew upon his interest in puzzles and mathematics, his interests in architectural history (particularly English Neo-Classicism), his leanings towards mysticism and his exposure to Theosophy.