Henry Irwin
Indo-saracenic Architecture
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Early years
Post 1920
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Indo-saracenic architecture represents a synthesis of Muslim designs and Indian materials developed by British architects in India during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The hybrid combined diverse architectural elements of Hindu and Mughal with Gothic cusped arches, domes, spires, tracery, minarets and stained glass, in a wonderful, almost playful manner.

Robert Fellowes Chisholm(1840 - 1915), Henry Irwin and Gilbert Scott were among the leading practitioners of the time.

Chisholm, one of the most gifted English architects working in India and a vehement supporter of Indian craftsmen, "the men who will actually leave the impress of their hands on the material. These men have an art language of their own, a language which you can recognise but cannot thoroughly understand. For this reason an architect practising in India should unhesitatingly select to practice in the native styles of art - indeed the natural art-expression of the men is the only art to be obtained in the country." Chisholm was the Principal of the School of Industrial Art at Madras, and won the commision for designing the Presidency College and the University Senate House.

Indo-saracenic architecture found its way into public buildings of all sorts such as railway stations, banks and insurance buildings, educational institutions, clubs and museums . Chepauk Palace in Chennai designed by Paul Benfield is said to be the first Indo-Saracenic building in India, referred to as licentious "eclectic" incorporating elements and motifs of Hindu and Islamic precedents. Outstanding examples are spread across the country - Muir college at Allahabad, Napier Museum at Thiruvananthapuram, the Post Office, Prince of Wales Museum, University Hall and Library, Gateway of India in Mumbai, M.S. University, Lakshmi Vilas Palace at Baroda, the Central Railway Station, Law courts, Victoria Public Hall, Museum and University Senate House in Chennai, the Palaces at Mysore and Bangalore.

Influences of the Indo-Saracenic wave can also be seen in Lutyens' design for the viceroy's residence (now Rashtrapati Bhavan) in New Delhi where also a combination of Mogul and European styles was employed - even if somewhat more restrained than many of the examples mentioned above.