Auroville is an experimental, yet no nation’s land that thrives on the principles of peace, harmony, knowledge, and upliftment in architecture. The architecture of Auroville caters to nationalities, cultures, and castes while specifically being a universal town. Apart from a free soul to architecture, Auroville works to experiment with new technologies and materials in construction. In addition to alternative buildings, the architecture of Auroville explores sources of energy within brick, bamboo, wood, sand, thatch, cement, and mud architecture. Furthermore, compressed earth block construction, ferrocement technology, and pitched, vaulted, and dome architecture is learning for architectural students.
The town radiates along the separation lines of four zones-cultural, residential, international, and industrial areas. Roger Anger, a French architect, designed Auroville and kept it open for experimenting, innovating, and research. Though most projects are not allowed for the visit, finding local solutions to local problems is what architects learn here. Auroville trains architects through various institutes like the Auroville Earth Institute, the Auroville Bamboo center, and the Auroville Building center. It aims to break through the settlement plan in cities and moves towards an integration of the master plan. Places in Auroville prove to be case studies for a rural and urban linkage, housing and sanitation and, an overall equitable approach. Let us discuss the top 10 places in Auroville for exploring architect.
- Built-In: 2008.
- Architect: Roger Anger.
Matri Mandir, the heart of Auroville conceptualized in 1968, started in 1971 and completed in 2008. Besides having a footfall of one million people per annum, the temple remains a quiet secluded zone in the nine hectares of land that it tends. In addition to the amenity architecture of Auroville, the temple adds up amphitheaters and gardens to the list. The temple has a flattened sphere over a meditation chamber that personifies a cosmic egg. A room sits in the upper hemisphere so that the floor gets a broad footprint.
A path that runs along the perimeter accompanies the room. Dodecagonal in plan and with a cone-shaped roof, the domical room is minimalist with white marble walls and white carpet. In addition to minimalist interiors, a crystal globe at the center grabs the focus, while a heliostat directs sun-rays on the dome. Load distribution of the superstructure onto four pairs of 38-m long piers is noteworthy. Moreover, for architectural students, Matri Mandir offers learning for light and allied effects, as artificial lights recreate the essence of natural light within the complex.
Architecture of Auroville: Auroville Visitors Center.
- Built-In: 1998.
- Architect: Suhasini Iyer, Satprem Maini.
Currently encompassing an area of 5000 sq.m, the Visitors center at Auroville hosts about 2000 visitors daily and about 10,000 visitors during holidays. Despite its moderately flat terrain, the Visitors center manages its aquifers with surface and roof water effectively. Similarly, as the architecture of Auroville, the building waters its tropical deciduous, evergreen forest with recycled water including, black water. Additionally, it utilizes its resources and grows food on urban facades. It recycles and composts solid waste and uses windmills for pumping water. Architects learn more about CSEB, ferrocement, rammed earth, light roofing, natural stone floors, and solar passive design strategies from the place. Consequently, the building empowers mud as a local material with semi-skilled labor, acceptance, and great monetary returns.
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- Built-In: 2020.
- Architect: Vastu Shilpa Consultants.
Svaram, translating to the architecture of sound, has many master architects working on it. Apart from Pritzer Prize laureate Balkrishna Doshi, Svaram now has Sonke hoof, Khushnu Panthaki Hoof, and Rajeev Kathpalia in its design team. Despite explorations, Svaram works with a center of musical instruments, working as an antidote, especially for the hearing impaired. Besides being a village of sound, vibration, and harmony, it includes art, science, and craft in the architecture of Auroville. A visitor’s movement inside the complex remains guided by large introverted blocks of public spaces. Additionally, a gathering space with circular skylights welcomes visitors to the main lobby. Furthermore, the Fibonacci series governs the architecture and plays with levels, shapes, volumes, and facades, assigning a different rhythm and vibration to each.
- Built-In: 2014.
- Architect: PATH Architects and Planners.
Located close to the Matri Mandir, Nandanam aspires to break through from the existing module of education to glorify the architecture of Auroville. Apart from being the focus of the plan, the courtyard adds light effects to the volumes. Besides being a case study for thesis students seeking institutional architecture, the visual drama of bright colors, openings, skylights, and plants is what architects learn from this structure. Moreover, each classroom has a private play area and sandpit that emerges from a band of semi-covered spaces.
Architecture of Auroville: Townhall complex.
- Built-In: 2003.
- Architect: Anupama Kundoo.
Apart from an urban emotion, the town hall complex configures offices, housing, land management, multimedia centers, cafes, and related infrastructure. Besides connecting elements, it adds compactness to the services of the architecture of Auroville. It has a network of walkways and skywalks that run along the perimeter to join buildings. The material palette includes a broad vocabulary of reinforced concrete and brick masonry, which stabilizes the architecture.
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- Built-In: 2010.
- Architect: Helmut.
A must-visit for campus cases studies, the Savitri Bhawan sits overlooking a stepped plaza, looking towards the bronze statue of Sri Aurobindo. The entrance to this structure lies with a raised top of an artificial hill, thus preventing water stagnation in the monsoons. Moreover, it utilizes roof water in its landscapes. A great way to tackle the lesser contours, it has a split level arrangement despite the connection with the theater that is accessible from both ground and prime levels. Furthermore, a curved wall connects the contrasting structure with the architecture of Auroville.
Architecture of Auroville: Sacred Groves.
- Built-In: Ongoing and Experimental.
- Architect: Various.
The Sacred Groves project attempts to nullify the shortage of affordable housing in Auroville while being ecologically sustainable and sensitive like the architecture of Auroville. In addition to building foundations, it utilizes its demolition waster for parapet walls, backfilling, and landscape. Architects can learn about alternative modes of construction in sacred groves that include earth crete mix and leftover cement-rubble foundation. Moreover, the aquaponics system here uses broken brick pieces that help grow food for Auroville.
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Architecture of Auroville: Solar Kitchen.
- Built-In: 1997.
- Architect: Suhasini Iyer.
Built for institutional use between the architecture of Auroville, the kitchen occupies an area of about 2000 sq.m. Here, architects study the services of a large 15m solar bowl that cooks about 2000 meals on clear days. Furthermore, the project aims to support organic farming through architecture to meet the nutritional needs of Auroville. The structure works following a heat-transfer system that circulates steam in a heat exchanger to control food generation. Additionally, prefabricated ferrocement modules hold the building together with lined flat mirror laces.
Temple tree retreat
- Architect: Mona doctor – Pingel.
Temple tree retreat revolves around building biology and teaches architects how to respond to electromagnetic fields, natural materials, and earth energies. Consecutively, the structure merges these learnings in a design of planetary harmony with green spaces, terracotta blocks, and cuddapah floors. Moreover, it reflects german engineering in its execution and thus, stands different from the architecture of Auroville.
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The Vikas settlement.
- Built-In: 1998.
- Architect: Satprem Maini.
In addition to environmentally caring materials, the Vikas settlement deals with earth and ferrocement technologies, renewable energies, and ecological water management to boost the architecture of Auroville. First of its kind in Auroville, the project uses stabilized earth from the foundations to the roof. Moreover, vaults and domes of CSEB spanned across the living rooms. The building does not need soil from external forces. Soil dug from the basement produces stabilized earth blocks to build the structure of 819 sq.m. Every architect and architectural student should learn such site management from the Vikas settlement.