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Auroville Articles: Architecture

Architecture in Auroville aims at promoting research, experimentation, creativity and harmony, as well as a functionally integrated development. This spirit, along with a commitment to address socio-economic and environmental concerns, underlie much of what is being attempted in the field of design and architecture in Auroville. Its goal is to be in harmony with nature and spirit; and to follow a sustainable model taking into account the prevalent climatic and sociological conditions of the region.

The last decade has seen considerable advances in ferro-cement technology as well as earth construction. In both areas Auroville has won national and international awards and significant grants-in-aid from agencies that support these innovations.

In addition, Auroville is also intensively involved in technology transfer through workshops, student exchange and intern programmes, presentations and seminars. Through these activities it reaches out to a multitude of people and municipalities, from remote rural areas in India to developed cities worldwide.

Pioneering Years
Since its inception, the possibility of creating a city within this "ideal-seeking" environment has attracted hundreds of architects, planners, students and researchers. The pioneering years saw the construction of simple, self-built huts, capsules, the beginning of the Matrimandir, some school buildings, the Pavilion of India - Bharat Nivas complex, and the first experiments in community living in Aspiration and Auromodele.

In this most trying period of the 60's and 70's, when financial and human resources were at a minimum, the limited availability of construction materials provoked a creative revolution in the self-builders. Structures were taken to high forms of self-expression and imagination, some of which still remain as an amazing architectural exposition of forms that break the mould of the conventional principle of "four walls and a roof" habitation.

Present Trends
A wide range of dwellings from single to collective housing, and the construction of a number of educational, institutional and public buildings form the bulk of Auroville's development in the past two decades.

The experiments cover various aspects of architecture, which include appropriate building materials and technologies, eco-friendly climate responsive designs, integration with natural surroundings, cost-effective buildings, geomancy and geometry, and the design of space itself. Lifestyle and its impacts on design and management of building infrastructure, integrated rainwater harvesting systems, domestic wastewater treatment plants, and integration of renewable energy systems are presently all rich fields of research and experimentation.

From thatch and bamboo houses to reinforced concrete structures, from single standing residences to apartment complexes and public buildings, Auroville is a research field for a plethora of experiments allowing a multitude of architectural expressions to manifest.

 

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