Time of Roses

architect Sir Edwin Lutyens
written by Žana Radetić


Sir Edwin Lutyens was an architect of the British Empire. Everything concerning him is typically and irresistibly British: his origins and philosophy of life, his family context, his clients and taste, his clothes, the rim of his eyeglasses, his sharp sense of humour, his attitude toward values and customs. His architecture was certainly British as well, and this represents its only entirely non-controversial feature. He is at the same time perceived as forgotten and one of the greatest national architects, the last traditionalist (Henry-Russell Hitchcock), sometimes even a kind of advance sign of modernist ideas. Nevertheless, he never devoted to this thought – free plan and technological symbols were not his interests, as much as aesthetics and products of the assembly line were not interests to his homeland, although exactly his homeland initiated the beginnings of the production line and was at the same time the home of industrial revolution. Eclecticism and applied tradition are quite obvious in this projects, from the idea to details. However, these are not prepared monuments of past times. They are characterised by clear belonging to their own times in a certain context with, sometimes, astounding resonance with modernist formative pragmatism (Page Street housing, Westminster), although the author was not in any way connected to it. In this context, he never deviated from the parallel and peculiar world of the English artistic reality.