The value of illustrative material in the study of visual cannot be over estimated. And in this respect Claude Batley’s The Design Development of Indian Architecture is a pioneering work on Indian architecture which has continued to influence generations of students and scholars of the subject. Although by 1934 when this book was first published, photographic plates were well in use as illustrations yet Batley believed that “however good a photograph may be, it cannot take place of a measured drawing for the student or architect.” And looking at the excellent drawings in the book, one has to agree with his statement.
The collection of measured drawings and details presented in this publication represents an endeavour to meet a need which everyone who has set out to study the elements of Indian Architecture must have felt.
This reprint of The Design Development of Indian Architecture is being presented in a new format while Development of Indian Architecture is being presented in a new format while retaining the original text and illustrations. This seminal work remains most useful for students and scholars of Indian architecture.
Claude Batley (1879 in Ipswich – March 20 1956, Bombay) was an English architect who left for Indian in 1913 and started a successful practice there in 1917 with Gregson and King, a firm of architects which is still extant under the name of Gregson, Batley and King.
He became a visiting professor in the J.J. School of Art in the year 1914, and its principal in the year 1923, a post which he held for the next 20 years.
Among his works are the Bombay Gymkhana (1917), Wakaner House (1933) now the American Consulate, Bombay Central Station (1930), Jinnah House (1935), Round Building (1937), Cusrow Baug in Colaba Causeway (1937-59) and its Agiary, known as The Seth Nusserwanji Hirji Karani Agiary (1938), Bombay Club (1939) now the Nataraj Hotel, Lalbhai House (1942) and Breach Candy Hospital (1950).
He died on 20th of March, 1956 in Bombay Club – the building which he had himself designed.
In the histories dealing with that subject, such as the excellent one written by Fergusson, the illustrations must need be small, while the plates contained in the various volumes published by the Archaeological Survey Department of the Government of India, in the well – known Bijapur Portfolio and in other cognate works, are found to deal each with some particular locality or style, and many of them are, if obtainable at all, beyond the means of the average student of architecture. Again, they illustrated, for the most part, only the more monumental and ornate examples in the district with which they each deal, omitting all reference to its smaller domestic architecture, form which, perhaps, the most useful inspiration may be gleaned by architects in connection with their practice in the India of to –day.
Moreover, the works referred to naturally treat architecture rather from the archaeological than from the architectural, or constructional, viewpoint.
There are, certainly, several works illustrating Indian Architecture by means of photographs, but, however good a photograph may be it cannot take the place of a measured drawing for the student or architect.
The plates now presented have all been drawn by my Indian students, for the most part from measured drawings, prepared either by themselves or their fellow – students, while the remainder have been re – drawn, in a somewhat more architectural manner, from various publications issued under the aegis of the Archaeological Department of the Government of India, with the kind permission of Sir John Marshall, Kt., C.I.E., Litt. D., M.A., F.S.A., until recently Director – General of Archaeology in India.
The origin of each measured drawing and the name of the delineator are to be found at the foot of each plate, and I take this opportunity of expressing my gratitude to all those who have thus made the production of the book possible, as well as to Mr. Robert W. Cable, F.R.I.B.A., and Mr. Alexander G. Bond, M.A. (Oxon.), F.R.I.B.A., for their kindness in reading the proofs and for other assistance rendered in connection with its publication.
The value of illustrative material for a study in visual arts cannot be over-estimated. And in this respect Claude Batley’s The Design Development of Indian Architecture is a pioneering work on Indian architecture which has continued to influence generations of students and scholars of well in use as illustrations yet Batley believed that “however good a photograph may be, it cannot take place of a measured drawing for the student or architect.” And looking at the excellent drawing in the book, one has to agree with his statement.
Claude Batley was born in 1879 in Ipswich, some 100 kilometers north – east of London, England. Trained as an architect, he came to India in 1913. The very next year he became a visiting professor in the J.J. School of Arts, Mumbai. He became the principal of the School in the year 1923 and continued to hold this post for the next two decades. During this period he made every effort to make the Diploma Examination in Architecture at this School equal in status to the Diploma of the R.I.B.A. (Royal Institute of British Architects). He took his students on trips to significant architectural sites all over the country where they made measured drawings of monuments. And the book in hand is a collection of the best work done by his students.
The Sir J.J. School of Arts (now Sir J.J. College of Architecture) has kept the memory of Professor and Principal Batley alive by annually conducting “The Claude Batley Lecture Series” to introduce students of architecture to works of contemporary Indian architects. The college also has named after him one of its galleries where the best works of architects are displayed.
Batley was not just a teacher and theoretician but also a practicing architect. In 1917, along with his service, he had started his private practice with the reputed firm of architects – Messers Gregson and King, later rechristened as Messers Gregson, Batley and King. He designed a number of beautiful buildings in Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Working in the Gothic Revival style, he believed in combining indigenous craftsmanship with Western – style planning. The buildings designed by him include the Bombay Gymkhana (1917), Wakaner House) (1933) (now the American Consulate), Bombay Central Station (1930), Jinnah House (1935), Round Building (1937), Bombay Club (1939) (now the Nataraj Hotel), and Breach Candy Hospital (1950). In collaboration with the architect George Witter (1978-1926; the designer of the Prince of Wales Museum and the Gateway of India), he also designed he C- shaped courtyard of the Gothic buildings behind the library of Mumbai University. The Town Hall and Lalbhai’s House at Ahmedabad are also his works.
Considering the historical significance of the buildings designed by Batley, his works in Mumbai were documented, during August 2000 – October 2000, by Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture and Environmental Studies.
Batley not only designed individual building but also showed a deep concern for the overall built environment of Mumbai. He vehemently protested that the Art Deco buildings at Marine Drive blocked the sea – breeze for houses of low height in less – privileged areas.
The first edition of the Claude Batley’s book The Design Development of Indian Architecture was published more than seven decades back in 1934 by Messers John Tiranti Ltd. of London. Its sustained popularity with the readers is testified by its several reprints. This latest reprint by Aryan Books International, New Delhi, being presented in a new format, deserves appreciation by the students and scholars of Indian architectures.
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