Architectural research thesis

Page 1

Dictionary meaning of Architectonics 1. (Architecture) denoting, relating to, or having architectural qualities. 2. (Philosophy) metaphysics of or relating to the systematic classification of knowledge.

Index 0. 1.

Introduction 0.1. Introduction 0.2. Aim 0.3. Objective 0.4. Scope and limitation 0.5. Method of the study

4 4 6 6 6 7

Place and its constituents


2. Introducing the place 2.1. The place – Auroville 2.2. Conceptions and foundations of the place 2.3. Formal manifestation of the place 2.4. Centering of the place 2.5. Early Manifestations 2.5.1. Early settlements 2.5.1. a. Aspiration community 2.5.1. b. Auromodele community 2.6. An insight into built manifestations until today

17 18 20 23 26 28 29 30 35 39


44 44 46

Premise of study 3.1. Focus of study 3.2. Particularization of premise

4. Case study 4.1 4.2. 4.3.

Individual scattered settlements 4.1.1 House in Newlands forest 4.1.1 a. House in Pichandikulam forest 4.1.2 House in Petite Ferme 4.1.2 a. House in Adventure Forest High density Low rise 4.2.1 Swayam Community 4.2.1. a. Yantra Community High density high rise 4.3.1 Luminosity 4.3.1. a. Citadines

5. Summing up 5.1. Passing the thread 5.2. Insight 5.3. End note Bibliography Illustration credits Acknowledgment Appendix

50 53 53 61 67 73 79 79 87 93 93 102 107 107 111 112 114 115 117 119

tree is a leaf and leaf is a tree house is city and city is a house a tree is a tree but it is also a huge leaf a leaf is a leaf, but it is also a huge leaf, but it also a tiny tree a city is not a city unless it is also a huge house a house is a house only if it is also a tiny city Aldo Van Eyck

0.1 Introduction Man does not merely exist, but interacts and shares a complex relationship with everything around him with the meanings and associations he establishes for himself. It is difficult to comprehend these meanings since the interactions are a result of varied relationships that can be understood by: man to the natural forces, man to another man, man to his community and man to the various intangible forces. All these external forces are fundamentally a context that informs people, places and things. An individual entity is never perceived in isolation, it is always seen as a part of a whole and these parts represent the whole. Neither the context nor the relationship an entity share with it is purely a physical, or purely a cultural or purely a psyche phenomenon, but is a manifestation of all three, where the physical consists of the terrestrial or geographical setting, the cultural of the societal relationships and values that exist and the psychic consists of the way of life, aspirations and the beliefs of individuals.

“The spirit of a place is something beyond the physical structure of a place and individuals understand it because of conceptual, individual, and collective memories and also associations which have been created for them� (Habibi, 2008). Every meaning associated with man and his existence comes from his way of life, his contextual setting and the way in which he responds and orients himself. There is a desire to express and communicate these meanings non-verbally that can be seen through the act of building. Such meanings expressed in architecture give rise to its character. The geography, topography and climate set certain parameters for the manifestation of built form; the aspects of culture, ideologies, etc. set certain parameters for the manifestation of the built form and its actual physical manifestation is dependent of his interpretation and orientation towards these contextual aspects.


Thus, in order to understand the meaning of the built form, one has to look at its physical manifestation in totality with its physical and cultural context, since an individual constantly tries be in harmony with the physical and socio-cultural context and its accepted norms and at the same time expresses his personal values and aspirations. Consequently, varied expressions are seen in built form under the same context, the degree of coherence in a place depends on the nature of collective values as well as the individuals. This gives each place its own identity. The degree of coherence in most traditional societies is high, since the built form was an expression of the collective values by an established belief system defined by religious and spiritual ideals and the physical environment, whereas in contemporary society the degree of coherence is rather complex, since is an expression of individual’s ideal and his own vision on culture. A place and its built form have often been associated and correlated with merely its physical characteristics or location, through which the true spirit of the place is not completely understood. This study aims at understanding Auroville as a place, as well as the forces that shaped it, through an inquiry into its built forms. Auroville as a place is often associated with the terms, “Utopia“, “green city/eco-city“, “sustainable township“, “model for the future“, “architectural laboratory“, “spiritual township“ etc and is known for its alternative practices, high degree of architectural expression and experimentation. Without getting influenced by these associations, the study aims to understand the place, purely through its built activities and forces that shaped it. It also attempts to trace the collective values which create the “spirit of the place“.


0.2 Aim : The study proposes to understand Auroville as a place in terms of its built activities.

0.3 Objective : To inquire into the structure of a place at a whole in terms of its built, in order to understand Auroville as a place. To document differing responses of the built form with reference to the context. To identify the forces that gave rise to or influenced the nature of the built environment over time. To identify the patterns or common values in the built form, that defines the place.

0.4 Scope and limitations : The study focuses primarily on the built forms in Auroville, and is confined to one typology i.e. dwellings. Reasons for the same are mentioned in the study. The case studies and the examples in the study have been chosen as a generic representation of each category. The study inferences are basic indicators of the general pattern of its evolution and its existence. There is a component of social and cultural along with an individual’s influences drawn in the dissertation. They are drawn on the basis of secondary sources of literature, informal conversations with the residents and the author’s own experiences. These observations are qualitative in nature. Factors like spirituality, politics and economics are not part of the scope of this study.


0.5 Method of Study The study is initiated with a description of the main premises from which the ideas of the dissertation are based on and explored. It leads on to discussing the main concepts with secondary sources, through which the study is conducted. Next, Auroville as a place is then looked at with a view to understand its origins broadly through its physical characteristics and its conceptual and formal ideas. Firstly, a preliminary study is done of a few early built manifestations. Later, a brief insight is given into the built manifestations, from the earliest to the present day with the help of secondary sources. This is done to understand the social, economic and cultural backdrop and concerns of the place. This now forms the basis for the study. Through this, the study arrives at important aspects and patterns are observed. Dwellings as a building typology is then taken up for the inquiry, which is broadly categorized into three parts according to the patterns observed. The reasons for these are stated as and when required. Having done this, a few dwellings are chosen under each category, with other examples falling under the same category to have an idea of various approaches. Each dwelling is studied through the broad structure arrived at in the main premise and with particularization of it, arrived at on the basis of the important aspects and patterns observed earlier. It is important to note here that at the end of each case study, one important aspect from each study is taken to introduce an example and to have a clearer idea of the mentioned categories. Due to the nature of the thesis, stage-wise inferences are made throughout the study, which are linked together in the end. The intention is to come up with a narrative of the place in time, as a back and forth process of incidents and accommodations. Here the conceptual and formal intentions of the place are looked back at in relation to the physical manifestations observed in the study. These together give an idea of the nature of built-form and its change, with time as a part of understanding the place.



1.0 Place According to the dictionary place is a particular position, point or area in space. Spaces that are set apart for a particular purpose or that possess certain quality make a place, since these qualities convey meanings and significance. In other words the physical quality that a location conveys, that sets it apart, contributes in making a place. Our environment is a sequence of relationships and activities within it and cannot be imagined without a reference to locality. When a place is rooted in its locality, it represents the various qualities possessed by the location. A distinctive form of space that emerges out of history, particularity, and everyday lived experience, place can be understood as fundamental in providing a locus of identity and sense of belonging among those who inhabit it (Hubbard and Kitchin, 2011)

Fig. 1.1 A street of Siena, Italy

The place does not have a specific geographical boundary, it can be a room in a house, a street, locality or a country with a quality. For instance if we look at the street, it is a space which is defined by elements like the road, the street light, the divider, the buildings along the road and the edge conditions. The character of these buildings and the activities, and people on the street become the quality of the space, which makes it a place, at the same time a city that has multiple number of spaces, but due to the character that it possess, it can be called a place. Places differ from one another in terms of their character, even the same place differs in character at different times, as it to some extent is a function of time. It also changes with weather, people, cultures, etc. According to Norberg Schulz, a place means a concrete manifestation of man’s dwelling and his identity depends of his belonging to places; Places here is not a theoretical location, it means a totality made up of objects in reality having material substances, texture, colour etc. which gives character and value of association. This character that a place possess gives it its identity and orients man in it. Identity is a human construct in response to the place , it is not inherent to the place.

Fig. 1.2 A public square in Giron, Columbia

When it is said “place“, it is not to mean any spatial condition as place but only those to which one can spontaneously associate to or its identity. The association is not any particular personal experience rather a general, universal or innate quality. When we think about a marketplace, our first association is with gatherings of people and hustle bustle around narrow streets having shops and stalls. It does not mean any space with this character can be called a market place, since the space with its certain unique elements will create this place. The openness, flexibility of movement, linearity etc are the spatial qualities of a market place, but these alone don’t define the place. The associative quality along with the spatial quality will here called a Market place.


Man has created various meanings from these associations to comprehend the world around us. Our every act or thought is a associated with memories, established images and characters, which allow communication of the meaning. For instance a sign-age and a symbol are established images that are communicated across the world without the need for explanation. Man constantly needs points of references to get a direction, scale, balance and time sense. References like landmarks, character and context, not only create a sense of place , but also help us orient and locate ourselves, since the world is experienced as a universe of qualities and meanings without which there would be lack of identity and understanding. As mentioned earlier, the physical identity of a location, sets it apart as a place and its qualities become its association. It may be physical unity conveyed through topographical features, or on the other hand central reference points like monuments. These monuments act as landmarks, the associations with these, as tools of orientation, though they do not possess the quality of the place as a whole.

Various elements in nature are associated with certain qualities that lend character. For instance, materials such as stones were associated with qualities of permanence corresponding to their quality of imperishability, vegetation is associated with calmness, water has been seen as a life giving element associated with sacredness. The presence of these elements lend its associative character creating a unique identity for the place. In architecture too, there are aspects that generate expressions appropriate to the character or culture of the place. Built form and its elements also borrow its characteristics from the place and also has the ability to create an identity of a place. These physical manifestations with the meanings attached with it become the tools of associations with the place.

Man’s engagement with place lies in his response to the environment, since he just does not exist in the environment but interacts with it. Man responds to the environment and expresses himself by the act of building, since his first response to the environment is by creating enclosure. In primitive times, man’s response to his context was confined to a minimal enclosure as a protection from the predators and weather, Here there was no prior reference or human intervention, and so these enclosures existed closest to their original state with the hand skills and tools available. The forms were a mix of organic and geometric shapes with the set of materials and techniques allowed. Volume was singular and left untreated, exposing building materials and structure. The scale was proportionate to the nature of basic activities, leaving it in harmony with nature.


Man and association

Fig. 1.3 Museum in Bilabao, as a landmark

Tools of association

FIg 1.4 Unified faces in tower square of Telo.

Man’s engagement with place

Fig. 1.5 Moving the roof of a house in Guinea

With time the sense of enclosure became much more than a mere act of enclosing. With the need for permanence and identity, these forms became more refined and became clearly distinct from the environment. There has been a huge shift in sense of enclosure from the primordial settlement to the highly developed individualized settlements due to the emergence of culture and society, aspirations of people and the urge for identity.

Fig. 1.6 Primitive huts showing sense of enclosure

Men acquire different responses in different parts of the world. Each place reinterprets a “common set of values“ in its own way, by relating to its own immediate context and then expresses itself. Over a period of time, the association with this responses and its place get instilled; this determines the culture of each place and establishes particular value which becomes the identity of the place. The art of architecture makes our existence not only visible, but meaningful, since spaces created by architecture does not just facilitate purpose but also communicates meanings and values. (Ching, 1970)

Structure of a place

Norberg-Schulz describes “the structure of a place is constituted of terms of “space“ and “character”. It is possible that similar spaces may possess very different characters. In order to comprehend a place, the aspects of space and character can be studied through the physical manifestation of built form with respect to the forces that shaped it. The space can be comprehended by its spatial organization and orientations, where as character can be understood by the formal and material constitution of the place with respect to the forces that shape them.

Constituents of place in terms of built form

Norberg Schulz describes the constituents of a built form as namely, Morphology, topology and typology. Where morphology is related to “how” of the architectural form i.e. its formal articulation, spatial boundaries and how buildings stand rise and open, where “Stand” denotes the relationship with the earth and “rise” with sky and open refers to the spatial interaction of the environment and Inside – outside; where topology is the spatial order that gets defined by spatial organization and the relationships it creates and typology refers to the manifestation of modes of dwellings: -urban space , institution and house.

FIg 1.7 Constituents of place

A built form gets its order by the order of space, a structural system and a conscious choices in a volumetric order, these aspects contribute to the order of a building environment, although the choice of these aspects is altered by and affected by geography, function, an individual’s belief, ideological context, which gives meaning to the order and informs us what it stands for. As in language, however, architectural forms and spaces also have connotative meanings : Associative values and symbolic content that are subject to personal and cultural interpretation, which can change with time. A building, like society, culture and even technology, is a dynamic object in both time and space.


Thus it is important to study physical manifestation of the built form to understand its associative values with respect to context and the individual interpretation. The forces that determine the built form can be categorized as :

Determinants of built form

- Physical forces: These forces primarily include the natural i.e. geography, location, climate and material available, along with these the built form as context also acts as an important force. - Intangible forces : These forces include social organization, cultures, group ideals, ideologies , religious and symbolic attributes, economics, politics, etc. - The personal forces : These forces include individual aspiration, beliefs, needs etc. These forces are highly interdependent and the levels and degrees at which they act vary at different places and times. In some cases, the physical forces act as a form generator and in some case intangible or personal forces act as the form generator, where the physical acts as a tool of form modifier. For example in the case of a house in a tropical climate, the pitch roof is a response to the heavy rainfall, where as in the case of a temple the roof i.e. the Shikhara and the linear spatial organization is a symbolic response to religious beliefs. If we further just talk about dwelling, in primitive architecture, man’s sole response was to the physical forces. The forces of society, religion and self identity were minimal. Later, he identifies meaningful surroundings and expresses his response to it. His existence is a result of aspects of place making that are shaped by the individual, cultural and mental construct running parallel and being interdependent on each other.

Role of Determinants

Fig. 1.8 Lingara Temple Bhubhaneshwar

Often buildings are a result of various determinants, where one is more dominating than the other, the more dominant determinants become its identity and associative value. For instance, In traditional Japanese architecture, we see a conglomeration of various forces. Its damp climate and the frequency of earthquake, resulted in the use of perishable and replenishable materials, which were light in weight and the structure is elevated slightly off the ground. This gave rise to the flexibility and the expansiveness. The extensibility of buildings establishes an exchange between inside and outside, giving unique character to its street. Thus Impermanence is a strong theme in traditional Japanese dwellings. Another important feature of Japanese architecture is the “Tatami“ mat, that forms basis of dimensions of spaces and modularity. Moreover, the belief system gives rise to a sensitivity towards nature; thus we see its built form being in complete harmony with nature and extensive use of natural elements and construction and landscape, gives it a distinct character. Here unity of attitude is more important that unity of form which lies in the spatial values, human scale and sensitivity of making. This gives rise to an associative character of purity and simplicity.


Fig. 1.9 Traditional Malay House

Fig. 1.10 Katsura Palace Japan

Fig. 1.12 Long House, A tribe Dwelling in North America

Fig.1.11 Typical Chinese house

Fig. 1.13 Falling water, Pennsylvania, Frank Lloyd

The centrality in the Chinese house is due to their cultural beliefs and lifestyle, the linearity in the Long House is as a result of the community values, and in case of falling water the spatial organization, responds to topography.

Fig. 1.14 Imperial Palace, China

The elevated plane in the Imperial palace is to define transition between the inside and the outside environment, creating a semi private realm as a result of social structure. Whereas in Fransworth house the elevated plane was to rise above the flood plain of the fox river.

Figure 1: Imperial Palace, China

Fig. 1.17 Walt Disney Concert hall, Frank Gehry

Fig. 1.16 Fatehpur Sikri Palace complex

Fig. 1.15 Fransworth House

Special place established by a platform in the artificial lake surrounded by the emperor’s living quarters as a result of an individual’s aspiration.

Figure 1: Fransworth House

Fig. 1.18 Sky Line of Florence city, Italy

The expression of the concert hall here is the result of deconstruction ideology whereas the cathedral here is the result of religious power to dominance of the cathedral over the urban landscape.

Note : A Built form is a result of multiple determinants acting together at various levels and degrees. These examples, show the dominant determinants.

Fig. 1.19 (Left): Plan of a typical Japanese house Fig. 1.20 (Top): Section of a typical Japanese house Fig. 1.21 (Top right): Landscape elements in Japanese houses


According to Amos Rapoport, climate and technology are just modifiers of the built form and not determinants since, given a certain climate, the availability of certain materials and the constraints and capabilities of a given level of technology, what finally decides the form of dwelling and molds the spaces and their relationships, is the vision that people have of the ideal life. It reflects many socio cultural forces, including religious, beliefs, family structure, social organization, the way of gaining livelihood, and social relations between individuals. The temperature also influences the construction technique and availability of the materials It can be argued that whereas constraints in the past were climate, limited technology and materials, the forces of tradition and lack of economic surplus, today’s constraints are very different. Current constraints are those imposed by density and population numbers, and the institutionalization of controls through codes, regulations, zoning, and requirements of economies. The clear hierarchy of the primitive and vernacular settlement is lost, resulting in a general loss of hierarchy within society, and all buildings tend to have equal prominence. Forces and pressures are too complex and the links among culture and behavior are more tenuous or difficult to trace and establish.

Relevance today

It is commonly seen that at times, these embodied meanings and their manifestations are reduced to conventions and images. Gradually a form or its features get associated with certain values and a way of life. The form resulting from the typological structure acquires a symbolic value, thus it leads to an identity. Though at times convention refers to notions of built form or its ideas becoming confined to the typical, self-conscious to the established norms, rather to the manifestation of its meanings, but over time transformed into custom and started being repeates as a way of buildings. As a result, convention can also turn into stereotypes, where the idea is oversimplified and the logic of form is lost. For example, the concept of otla in a traditional settlement, was as a result of culture, interaction and climatic response; replication of otla in a individual modern house, does not serve the same purpose, but is due to strong associations on conventions.

Misunderstood/Misused associations with built form

The relationship between space and humans, largely through the perception of the space construct, helps interpret, understand and apply the principles of space organization in a changed time and space, rather than replicate form, context, material, technology, styles and “isms“. Technology advances with time. Seen in isolation, materials undergo transformation and change meaning with changed technological processes and are, thereby, largely a function of technology. Stylization loses relevance with the changed functional, technological or sociopolitical context. Symbols remain significant only within specific associations. Thus, what remains is the total spatial experience.


Time and place

Time plays an important role in comprehending a place, as space and its character are not definite factors, with change in time since the context and its interpretation are subjected to change, it evolves and gets redefined.

Space and time, created “in the image of man,” become place and event. There is an affinity between the notion of place and the notion of the in-between, both taking place between the polarities of inside and outside, here and there, small and large, part and whole, house and city, form and structure, and so forth. (Eyck, 1998) Built environment like society, culture, even technology, is a dynamic object in both time and space. For instance, the character of the city of Kolkata, has been redefined various times since various physical and non-physical factors have resulted in change in the building typologies. The character of the traditional old city and the city emerging now are quite different, though the buildings in the old city have been adapted to the contemporary use conserving the value associated with it.

Role of an individual

Many individuals contribute to make a place, since place is a result of varied manifestations of individuals. Often an individual is a part of a collective, where his personal ideas or values get altered by or formed by the collective values. Since the individual interprets the collective values, and manifests it with his own understanding, it leads to diverse expressions. “The primitive and vernacular societies are less the result of individual desires than of the aims and desires of the unified group for an ideal environment,” where an individual adopts the values of the collective, resulting in coherent environments. The contemporary society is often a result of individual or singular effort rather than a combined effort of several people at all levels, resulting in a disintegrated environment with a high level of particularization.

The true meaning of a place

‘The built environment carry with it important meanings from one generation to the next, and serves as a repository of cultural meanings.’ (Tweed & Sutherland, 2007). These meanings are embedded in the building, in the way people live and interact with them.

The means for building an architectural place are always physical, but they are not sufficient by themselves, since they always cater a purpose. The purpose could be a result of symbolism or purely functional. Architectural form must also therefore refer to the Idea of the place and not to only aesthetic principles, utility or geometric and constructional rules. These tools are a means of achieving the idea. (Meiss, 1990) While comprehending a place and finding the characteristics that unite it, the semantic unity should also be understood rather than formal coherence of repetition, similarity, orientation symmetry etc.


These semantic aspects can be studied through its physical manifestation by reasoning the forces that shaped them. Thus to comprehend a place in terms of its built form, physical aspects i.e. spatial organization, interrelationships, and its formal and material manifestation i.e. space, form and making need to be studied in light of the forces that shape them. The thesis further intends on understanding auroville as a place, in the terms of the manifestations of its built form considering forces that might have played an important role in shaping it.


A dream “ There should be somewhere upon Earth a place which no nation could claim as its own, where all human beings of goodwill who have a sincere aspiration could live freely as citizens of the world and obey one single authority, that of the supreme truth; instincts of man would be used exclusively to conquer the causes of his sufferings and miseries, to surmount his weaknesses and ignorance, to triumph over his limitations and incapacities; a place where the needs of the spirit and the concern for progress would take precedence over the satisfaction of desires and passions, the search for pleasure and material enjoyment. In this place, children would be able to grow and develop integrally without losing contact with their souls; education would be given not for passing examinations or obtaining certificates and posts but to enrich existing faculties and bring forth new ones. In this place, titles and positions would be replaced by opportunities to serve and organize; the bodily needs of each one would be equally provided for, and intellectual, moral and spiritual superiority would be expressed in the general organisation. Not by an increase in the pleasures and powers of life but by increased duties and responsibilities. Beauty in all its artistic forms, painting, sculpture, music, literature, would be equally accessible to all; the ability to share in the joy it brings being limited only by the capacities of each one and not by social and financial position. For in this ideal place, money would no longer be sovereign lord; individual worth would have a far greater importance than material wealth and social standing. There, work would not be a way to earn one’s living but a way to express oneself and to develop one’s capacities and possibilities while being of service to the community as a whole, which, for its own part, would provide for each individual’s subsistence and sphere of activity. In short, it would be a place where human relationships, which are normally based almost exclusively on competition and strife, would be replaced by relationships of emulation in doing well, of collaboration and real brotherhood. The Earth is certainly not ready to realise such an ideal, for mankind does not yet possess sufficient knowledge to understand and adopt it nor the conscious force that is indispensable in order to execute it; that is why I call it a dream. And yet this dream is on the way to becoming a reality...” - Mother 17

2.1 The place : Auroville Auroville is a universal township in the making in the South of India. It was founded in 1968 by Mira Alfassa, later known as The Mother, based on the visions and teachings of Sri Aurobindo for the purpose of realizing human unity in diversity. The township was envisioned for a population of upto 50,000 people from around the world.

Auroville is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity (The Mother, 1970).

As put by Aurobindo, �A greater social and political unity is not necessarily a boon in itself; it is only worth pursuing in so far as it provides a means and a framework for a better, richer, more happy and puissant individual and collective life. But hitherto the experience of mankind has not favoured the veins that huge aggregations, closely united and strictly organised, are favourable to a rich and puissant human life. It would seem rather that collective is more at ease with itself, more genial, varied and fruitful when it can concentrate itself in small spaces and simpler organizations.�

Fig. 2.1. Location of Auroville

Site and Setting Auroville is located upon a plateau along the bay of Bengal, 160 km south of Chennai on the east coast of India, 6 km north of Pondicherry. Auroville is located along the East Coast highway which provides easy accessibility both from Chennai and Pondicherry. Initially the site was 20 square kilometers of barren wasteland with a few palm trees, peanut fields and deep canyons caused by gradual erosion, the Auroville we see today is due to the afforestation done by the early inhabitants. It is surrounded by a number of rural Tamil villages and some villages even come under the designated area of Auroville. These villages around are also growing, constantly generating a land discrepancy.

Fig. 2.2 Auroville 40 years ago


It is included in the sub-humid tropics and situated on a plateau region with its maximum elevation of 32 m located in the central core. The annual rainfall average is 1,200 mm mainly from the SW monsoon (June to Sept.) and NE monsoon (Nov to Dec) with a dry period of approx 6 months. The average maximum temperature is 32.2 °C, average minimum 20 °C.

The topography and climatic characteristics were originally seen as challenges to the development of a town like Auroville, with its high ideals. However, the early constraints, in the form of gullied, windswept barren lands, generally considered unsuitable for urban development, have now been largely overcome through the planting of over 2 million trees and shrubs, which have been nurtured assiduously over the past thirty years (Lithman, 1980)

Inhabitants The township was originally intended to house 50,000 residents. In the initial 20 years, only about 400 individuals from 20 countries resided in the township. In the next 20 years, this number rose to 2,000 individuals from 40 countries. Today, its 2,487 residents (1854 adults and 633 children) come from 49 countries with two-thirds coming from India, France and Germany. The peripheral villages have a population of 3000 and the village settlement that was in the designated part of the township has a population of 8000. Although there are constant land disputes between Auroville and these neighboring villages, 5000 villagers are employed in Auroville.


2.2 The conception and foundations of the place There cannot be pinpointed a single year when the conception of the idea of Auroville took place, since the idea of Auroville came to Mother as early as the 1930’s, though it was proposed only in the mid 1960’s with the support of the Sri Aurobindo Society. The concept was put before the Government of India, who gave their backing and took it to the General Assembly of UNESCO. In 1966 UNESCO passed a unanimous resolution commending it as a project of importance to the future of humanity, thereby giving their full encouragement. The inauguration of Auroville took place on the 28th of February 1968 when some 5000 people assembled near the Banyan tree at the center of the future township for an inauguration ceremony. Young representatives from 124 countries of the world and 22 Indian states placed a hand full of their soil from their homeland into an urn. Along with the soil lies a scroll, on which the Mother wrote the original charter of Auroville. The charter has, since then, served as the referent guideline for the people who choose to live and work for Auroville. It read, 1. Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But to live in Auroville, one must be a willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness. 2. Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages. 3. Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within, Auroville will boldly spring towards future realizations. 4. Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual Human Unity.

‘When the people went home that day, the wind blew over a desolate plateau with only a Banyan Tree, a lotus urn, a scattering of Palmyra, and a vast expanse of eroded red laterite Earth scarred by canyons that run between the villages down to the Bay of Bengal. What was to be the Auroville city area was uninhabited and was used by the surrounding villages to graze cattle. According to the Mother, the ‘first’ Aurovilians were those 25,000 local people living around and within the larger Auroville area of 25 square kilometers.’ (Sullivan, 1994) The charter laid the basic premise for the foundation of the experiments in Auroville and was the only reference for the kick start of Auroville and its inhabitants, in the later years the charter also helped set certain rules for future developments in terms of any social, financial and land transactions. Fig. 2.3 Original charter by the Mother


“Auroville is conceived as an urban experiment to undertake the work of the ‘evolution of consciousness’ in a society that would concretely experiment with the challenges of economy, sociology, environment and culture while seeking spiritual life.” (The Mother, 1970) Unique in its conception, the idea of the city was based not on any economic or political basis but on a spiritual-cultural ideal which hinted at developing a way of life and was dedicated to human unity. A city is generally developed either by stretching a boundary around the community which is already functioning and enclosing small units to form a conglomerate or by developing a whole new framework which is unexplored by anyone and then inviting people to reside in their respective areas. Thus the city can be loosely categorized into two major groups the organic city and the planned city.

Fig. 2.4 Cosmic model : Vastu Purush mandala

The organic city is a city grown, generated and geomorphic, where the morphology of the city represents development by a process of accretion growth, being irregular, sensitive to changes in the habits of the people and habitat, as well as dynamic in character. These can also be called Ethnocentric cities i.e. based on a number of reasons, including religion, language, customs, culture, and shared history, where as in a planned city the growth pattern is predetermined and overseen by authority. The planned cities can be based on various models, like cosmo religious ideologies, functions, technologies, scientific researches, etc. For instance, the cosmo religious ideology forms an important influence for the planning of Jaipur, where the mandala diagram is followed in structuring the city taking into account the existing culture, society and the way of life.

Fig. 2.5 Urban plan of Jaipur, based on the cosmic model

In the case of Chandigarh, the city reflects the demographic organization of urban institutions along with the residential sectors. The structure of the city is based on economy, creating a juxtaposition of caste, religion, culture,etc, within its system. Smart cities proposed today are an example of cities based on technology and communication for achieving a better quality of life. Apart from these existing models, there have been many alternative societies or intentional communities that are formed as a result of Utopian aspirations and idealistic ways of life. These are based on the vision of a reconstituted environment which is better adapted to nature and aims at human beings and their relationships. Some of such communities in the world, along with their idealistic visions, have also attempted new ways of looking at the built environment, since it plays a major role in shaping a city.

Fig. 2.6 Urban plan of Chandigarh


A few examples of such communities are discussed here :

Arcosanti Arcosanti is an experimental town located in Arizona, USA. It was founded in 1970 by a Italian-American architect, Paolo Soleri, based on his philosophy of Arcology. Arcology refers to architecture that responds efficiently to ecology. The project attempts to combine a the social interaction and accessibility of an urban environment with sound environmental principles, such as minimal resource use and access to the natural environment. The ultimate goal is to house 5,000 people in a single structure solarpowered Arcology. 25 stories high, it will occupy only 14 acres on a 3,000 acre site, the rest to be reserved for agriculture, recreation and beauty. The population varies today between 50 and 150 people, based on the number of students and volunteers on the site.

“In nature, as an organism evolves it increases in complexity and it also becomes a more compact or miniaturized system. Similarly a city should function as a living system. Arcology, architecture and ecology as one integral process, is capable of demonstrating positive response to the many problems of urban civilization, population, pollution, energy and natural resource depletion, food scarcity and quality of life. Arcology recognizes the necessity of the radical reorganization of the sprawling urban landscape into dense, integrated, three-dimensional cities in order to support the complex activities that sustain human culture. The city is the necessary instrument for the evolution of humankind.” (Paolo Soleri, 1969)

Fig. 2.7 Conceptual section of Arcology by Paolo Soleri

FIndhorn Findhorn Ecovillage is an experimental architectural community located by the Findhorn Bay in Northern Scotland. It was established in 1962 with the main aim of demonstrating a sustainable development in environmental, social, and economic terms. It was started in a caravan park, situated in a sandy and dry landscape. Today, it is lush and green, and covers an area of 0.7km2 with about 900 inhabitants. The built environment of Find horn attempts to reflect shared ecological values, through ecological houses, innovative use of building materials such as local stone and straw bales, and the use of varied technologies towards sustainability. Similar to these examples, Auroville was conceived with the idea of an alternative society, where attempt towards human unity and a way of life formed the basis for the township. Since the project was envisioned as an urban experiment, it deals with the complexities of urban society in terms of architecture and planning, unlike many of the idealistic communes, settlements and ashrams, that live a life of order with limited range of social activities.


“The Findhorn eco village is a tangible demonstration of the links between the spiritual, social, ecological and economic aspects of life and is a synthesis of some of the very best of current thinking on human habitats. It is a constantly evolving model.” (Findhorn foundation,2015)

2.3 Formal idea of the place The planning process of Auroville demonstrated that Mother was flexible; she kept evolving. Hence the task she gave to Auroville’s planners (past, present and future) is a very difficult one because on the one hand she asked Roger to plan a city of 50,000 which she wanted to be built in 10- 20 years (and the faster a town is to be built, the sooner many important decisions need to be taken), while on the other hand she kept insisting that things be kept as open as possible and she stressed the need for “plasticity and flexibility” so as not to “fossilise things” earlier than required. (Gilles, 2013)

Fig. 2.8 Mother’s original sketch of four zones

Fig. 2.9 Rectangular model, 1966

In 1964, the mother sketched the shape of her city with four zones- the industrial, cultural, residential and international around the meditation center indicating pointing to the urban context of the project. A French architect Roger Anger was appointed as the chief architect of the project to formalize mother’s ideals into a plan for the city. He presented several schemes and interpretation of mother’s concept from which the final “Galaxy plan emerged“. The first plan based on a strict orthogonal grid, divided the city into two major sectors, housing and industries facing each other, with the meditation space on an artificial lake, which was surrounded by the international sector on three sides. The second model was a symbolic and concentric plan with the city arranged around a strong central public space and twelve principle radial roads. Out of the first two the latter was preferred, a plan that became known as the “Nebula Plan“. In 1967 this pattern, typical of Utopian cities planned in the early part of the 20th century, evolved into a more dynamic, “mega structure plan with two” mega buildings housing 25000 inhabitants. The residential and industrial zones were denser than the international and cultural ones were marked with large macro structures that reinforced the spiral movement and were located opposite each other. These profound sweeps seemed complex since the mega-structures would have to get built at once.

Fig. 2.10 Nebula model, 1966

Fig. 2.11 Nebula model, 1966

Roger further transformed his “66 model into the Auroville “Galaxy plan” 1968, While retaining the dynamism of the previous plan, its spiral form radiated from the spiritual center of the town, with a progressive densification and increase of height nearing the center. There was no mega structure in the final master plan; only a succession of buildings of decreasing height towards the periphery, down to a minimum height. The four zones were laid out in a dynamic radiating and spirally rotated movement around the city, consisting of lakes, parks and gardens. The zones were separated only in theory, their gradual integration and communication was facilitated by a circular plan. The city was to be compact, only 2.5 kilometers in diameter, it was to be serviced via a concentric road called The Crown, located midways, it would be the main road for the eventual mechanical traffic and for pedestrians. It would transform its nature according to the zone.


A green belt was planned to surround the city and absorb its impact. In order to achieve the desired density without reducing its contact to nature, and in order to achieve about 50 % green areas , the bulk of the city structure would largely be composed of low rise buildings with some concentrated macro-structures. The role of the Green Belt is to act as the “lungs” of the entire area. It creates oxygen and moisture, prevents excessive dust, provides a natural habitat for many different animals, birds, insects, etc. It not only sustains the healthy growth of life in general for the entire area but also acts like a buffer between Auroville and the bio region, including Pondicherry and the local villages. The Green Belt continues the process that was started more than 25 years ago of healing the land and turning what was a degraded plateau into a healthy tree covered area. This is possibly the biggest achievement for Auroville today.

Fig. 2.12 Original Galaxy plan

To compensate for the low- rise housing in the green city and still provide the required compactness and density, urban structures called “The lines of force“ were introduced. These were proposed in order to enhance the dynamic spiraling movement of the town plan, absorb density with a minimum of circulation on the ground through vertical development. The lines of force concept can be considered a culmination of all of Anger’s previous research in large scale housing and urbanization experiments. Though Auroville had plenty of plans and intentions, the actual manifestations seen today are far away from its intentions. According to Savitra’s observations in the first few years of planning, In the beginning the model seemed to be dominating , as a result with no living experience , the architecture and its planning largely remained abstractions. Gradually, with time Aurovillians must have realized what the real needs of the times were and the limited resources they had. There was a shift from trying to decipher the future diagram of the city, instead primitive attempts were seen towards inhabiting the place and acquiring the land. “Two architectural and planning processes have emerged together in Auroville. One, the Architect driven, formal, organisational, seeking to integrate the most evolved urban planning techniques; the other, the informal, organic, diffused, seeking growth and design in process, from within. Both are necessary in Auroville, both balance one another on a whole, testing one another’s weaknesses, creating a dynamic tension in which neither can become self-satisfied; Planning and nonplanning.” (Lithman, 1980) Only a few elements of the plan have manifested themselves today, 50 years since its birth. The part of the plan that served as the minimal outline and framework to contain Auroville’s teeming diversity, is the four zones – the simple quaternary on which the city was to be built: residential, cultural, international, and industrial. All the rest is only a tentative process of a city trying to discover itself. In case of Auroville, there was an attempt to reduce the idea of the city, to a graphical diagram and an abstract ideal.


Fig. 2. 13 Lines of Force

Manifestation of which was very complex, since there was freedom to interpret the abstract ideals and diagrams which had no attached guidelines. Similar to Auroville’s galaxy, many attempts have been made towards ideal cities, where the idea of the city is reduced to a graphical diagram. There have been more ideal cities on paper than on ground, since most of them are single minded visions of individuals or institutions. Some ideas of such cities have been discussed below.

Fig. 2.14 Garden city Plan

Ebenzer Hogwards devised a conceptual model of a garden city as a response to the need for improvement in the quality of urban life which had become impaired by overcrowding and congestion due to uncontrolled growth since the Industrial Revolution. He envisioned the garden city in a circular plan, a series of concentric rings intersected by a radial pattern of streets. All the activities were proposed in radial hierarchy with a dedicated patch of green land; at the center was a garden, surrounded by civic and cultural institutions and those, in turn by a large park and further residences and industries were proposed. Howard purposely did not provide formal details of the garden city since he envisioned it to be the result of a cooperative atmosphere.

Fig. 2.15 Concept of Broad Acre City

Frank Lloyd Wright’s broad acre city, set out to be a radically decentralized community, stressing the independence of each family as the basic social unity. His scheme called for the family to own atleast an acre of land, on which its members would not only live in privacy but also grow a certain amount of their food in a garden . Such a concept proposed centrality of the automobile in modern life, to commute around. Wright decided to maintain the lowest feasible population density, a situation where all land is allocated , not leaving any space. In his approach Wright assumed total control over building and planning.

Fig. 2. 16. Le Corbusier’s City of towers

In contrast to Howard and wright, Le Corbusier imagined a city more concentrated than even existing metropolises. He imagined a dream city of towers, which was a resultant sum of cellular houses in geometric regularity and repetition, devoid of any cultural interactions at grassroot levels. Between all these towers would be green parks with winding paths, trees, gardens and fountains. Beyond this core would be secondary transportation core outside which would be middle class housing, shops offices, tertiary routes gardens, apartment blocks, villas etc. The juxtaposition of towers housing 12000-15000 people with broad expanses of nature was so extreme as to make interconnection meaningless in terms of urban life. Auroville, has so far resisted and challenged such single minded approaches due to the flexible and collective approach. “It is the difference of a town planning where only a few architects make the drawings and on the contrary a whole social structure where politically, economically, culturally, there is a sort of harmonious balance and richness that grows and develops. The momentum of Auroville is in the building the Mother said. What is important is that it is created together with the feeling of the collective.” (Lithman, 1980)


2.4. The Centering of the Place There is a point at which all of the roads in Auroville, the paths seen and unseen meet, converge, and having no place further to travel spatially, turn within. This point is the Matrimandir, the Centering of the City. (Lithman, 1980) Matri Mandir was conceived as an Idea of a central symbolic building, to embody the soul of Auroville at the center of the city next to the Banyan Tree which marked the geographical epicenter of Auroville. It took 37 years to build, from the laying of the foundation stone February 1971 to its completion in May 2008. For several years, Aurovilians, Ashramites and workers from nearby villages were working together, first at the digging, then at the building and at the completion of the Matrimandir, “the Soul of Auroville”. Matrimandir had no fixed and final architectural plan. Only the structural design was formalised and that too was subject to detail adjustments in process. The diversity of the people along with their expertise, skill, labour and constant learning unified towards its making has concretized this Centre.

Fig. 2.17 Conceptual plan of Auroville, showing the zones and the center

It is visually perceived as a large and slightly flattened golden sphere suspended over the ground, which appears to rise out of the Earth, symbolizing the birth of a new consciousness. The Mother described it as the “Symbol of the divine’s answer to man’s aspiration for perfection and as the central cohesive force of Auroville“. On the inside, it appears as a 1970s vision of the future the elegant white interior of a space ship. A sphere whose base line is at the level of the surrounding ground line, has been given an effect of suspension by placing it within a huge crater excavated out of the earth and holding it up on four columns. Inside the sphere, a dodecagon-shaped inner chamber is suspended on four pillars. Long double helical ramps provide two ways to reach the suspended inner chamber. Functionally, the purpose of Matri Mandir was to provide a collective meditation space. Apart from the central space, it also had 12 meditation chambers , surrounded by twelve gardens creating a green buffer to maintain the sanctity of the meditation area.

Fig. 2.18 Interior of Matri Mandir

Matri Mandir had a much larger role to play rather than being a meditation center. Architecturally it had the responsibility of representing the image of Secularism and abstraction, which has no associations with past. It had to be devoid of all preconceived notions and imageries and religious symbols. Looking at India and its religious and cultural aspects holding an authoritative role and marked by monumentality, in a similar way Matri mandir also suggests its importance by monumentality. Matri Mandir and the grand galaxy plan, must have played a major role in attracting diverse people from all over to be a part of the project. Fig. 2.19 Approach to Matri Mandir


At the time when the early Aurovillians were trying to create their rudimentary shelters by availability of resources, Importance of this monumental building is suggested by the Advance technology and materials used in the construction. Aluminum honeycomb panels were imported from the United states, The marble used for the inner chamber was imported from Italy as well as Makrana marble from Rajasthan. At the center of the chamber, a single ray of light from above is directed onto a seventy centimeter crystal globe; the biggest optically perfect glass globe in the world, manufactured in Germany. A heliostat, driven by a computer program, tracks the sun’s rays and rotates the Fig. 2.2O Crystal globe at centre of the meditation lens accordingly, so that the beam of light falls directly on the globe. space

“It has transformed a melange of global amateurs, most of whom have never held a reinforced rod, into a coherent and skilled group of artisans assembling a delicate engineering work. It has taken a clash of colours, cultures and castes – villager and sophisticate, child and elder, woman and man – and harmonised them in a common labour, sweating together under a single sun. It has shown the Aurovilians that they can do what they cannot do, and earned the unquestioned respect of all the apprentice citizens of the apprentice city. “(Lithman,1980)

Fig. 2.21 Construction of Matri Mandir

Like many other cities around the world, Auroville also started with a symbolic center playing a key role of being a germinate of the city as the pivotal point and generator of all the physical and spiritual mechanisms. Though the city did not actually grow from the center to the periphery, the early dwellings were built on the periphery, since the center was empty of non-defined planned settlements and had no identifiable physical framework In later years, major developments took place close to the center in the respective zones. Major development proposals today, are in and around the City Centre. The plan is to locate most of its residential, economic and neighborhood level developments in and around the City Centre, and only to the extent required to support such developments. It has been proposed to utilize lands in the immediate vicinity of the Crown i.e. in the four principal city zones viz Residential, Industrial, Cultural and International. Fig. 2.22 City plan of Madhurai


2.5 Early Manifestations “The City was envisioned as a laboratory, a laboratory wherein to work towards consciousness, where urban planning would embody the fusion of matter and spirit, past and future, a step towards the new society.“ (Lithman, 1980) It was not to be a town that only aesthetically appealed, but where people evolve and learn to be at peace with one another. Living together in harmony has been one of the tests for Auroville from the start- collective living is intrinsic to the conception of Auroville. The architecture of Auroville cannot be reduced to a few words, since the living patterns have changed drastically over the years, with the physical context, growing numbers, infrastructure and familiarity with the land. The first Aurovillians lived in temporary self-built structures in small settlements spread out over the vast barren land, since there was an imperative need to create shelter. What they built was highly creative and experimental in form, since the place was completely barren like a clean slate with no existing rural structure to refer to, though the immediate context to understand the environment, materials and construction were the Tamil villages that surround Auroville.

Fig. 2.23 Early temporary structures

For many years any permanent structures were not authorized except for Matri Mandir and Bharat Niwas (the pavilion of India), since the ideal approach towards the township was still unknown and the funds were inadequate. The only points of reference then were Mother’s dream of human unity, The charter, and the galaxy plan. These gave the township its abstract references but no predefined laws and conventions to conform to, since it wanted to be flexible and redefineable with change and time as well as open to interpretation. These References although abstract, along with the physical context could be the key framework for the kick start of Auroville, giving way to a multitude of expressions. The early settlers began with planting millions of saplings as a measure of self preservation from storm, heat and to start inhabiting on the barren land. With this rudimentary effort towards inhabiting the place, the Galaxy plan must have been a futuristic dream. Amongst the first planned settlements were Aspiration and Auromodele, Aspiration was the first attempt towards the collective, to accommodate the first pioneers and Auromodele, as the name suggests, was proposed as the model for the township. These early settlements like aspiration and Auromodele were built outside the city leaving the center empty for the future city to begin since there wasn’t any ideal planned typology or way of building for the future city to begin. It is situated closer to Pondicherry, because in those times there was not much infrastructure within Auroville and one depended a lot on Pondicherry.


Fig. 2.24 Early temporary structures

Fig. 2. 25 Kala Kendra, Bharat Niwas, 1971

Fig. 2.26 Map of Auroville, showing location of the early settlements with respect to the center

2.5.1. Early Settlements

2.5.1 a. Aspiration Community 2.5.1 b. Auromodele Community

“First living experiments of community settlements had to be conducted at the outskirts of the township in order to study them under the test of time. Through a series of designs, more appropriate solutions for actual execution in the model town were to be evolved for the future “Ideal city“ to start with. The early community engaged in extremely close living, sharing almost every space and facility, with little consideration for individual needs. “(Kundoo, 1991) 29

Fig 2.27 A view of Aspiration community in early 1970’s

2.5.1 a. Aspiration The Aspiration community was conceived in 1969, it was the first sign of community habitat towards the collective dream of Auroville. Prior to Aspiration there were a few scattered communities such as Promesse and Forecomers, but Aspiration was the first one that aimed at a larger, more inclusive, community life.

The general idea of Aspiration goes back to 1968 when it was decided to start the construction of Auroville with a group of semi-temporary houses which could house the young people wishing to work at the construction of Auroville and who were ready to attempt an experiment in community life. (Auroville project, 1971) The pioneering years saw simple semi-permanent tetrahedron hut structures, self-designed and at times self-built- huts of casuarina poles, keet and palm thatch. The structures were made out of locally available materials tweaked to accommodate their rather different needs. The community settlement in aspiration consisted of individual semipermanent huts and a community kitchen where food was made for all the inhabitants. The initial idea was to experiment with the community structures on the outskirts and when land was consolidated in the city area, one was to move to the City. But as the population growth has not grown as per prediction, most of these units function out of the original locations, in the outskirts. There were two predominant hut types that were built in Aspiration, the Hexagonal and the Square Hut. These were made in stages to accommodate new pioneers. The initial layout was made by architects Piero and Gloria, their idea was to use materials that were locally sourced, and easily available and use techniques which are known locally with the help of the local villages.


Fig 2.28 Rough site plan of Aspiration as it stands today.


Fig. 2.29 Plan of typical square hut 0





Square huts The first nucleus of Aspiration finished in 1969, consisted of 9 square units and a community kitchen. The huts were modular, where two rotated squares are linked with a corridor. The size of each square i.e. a room is 3.8m2 that could accommodate one or two person and a corridor leads to the common bathroom ,both situated at a level of minus .50m as compared with the floor of the rooms.

Fig. 2.30 Early image of square hut construction

Fig. 2.31 Internal view of square hut, notice the white triangular shutter against the roof.

The huts are low to the ground, the maximum height being 3m. The Tetrahedron roof acts like a major enclosure to the hut since the walls of the structure are as low as 0.50m. The structure of the roof is designed in a way that it not only acts as the enclosure but also accommodates openings. The windows are made of triangular shutters, which rest completely against the slope of the roof when opened, the three sides of the huts can be made completely open allowing maximum interaction as well when closed, allow complete privacy. The structure of the roof is made of wooden rafters (5 x 10 cm) joined with nuts and bolts and fixed on an iron base. A galvanized wire net 40 x 40 cm stretches from the beam. Coco leaves also called “keet“ and thatch were used for covering and insulation in those times, and are now replaced by tile and ferro cement roofs. The interiors are very sparsely furnished. Storage is provided for in the passage way. Simple beds and desks were also provided. Most of these semi-temporary huts have not survived till today, many have been demolished and built over. The few that have survived now function as the guest accommodation in Aspiration.

Fig. 2.32 Square hut today, Keet replaced with tiles


Fig. 2.33 Site plan 0




The hexagonal hut The hexagonal huts were developed in the next phase by architects Piero and Gloria. 16 such huts were proposed and construction took place in 1971.

The plan of these units is made according to necessity of building houses convenient for families of groups of people wishing to expand the experiment in community living by sharing the same house, like a joint family house prevailing in India. (Auroville project, 1971) Three Hexagon modules connected make a unit, and two such oppositely oriented units connected together make a Hexagon hut. The general characteristics are similar to the ‘square huts’, Since these units catered to the families it allowed more privacy. The total area for the 3 rooms is 42 m2, dressing room, bathroom and toilet are provided separately for each of the three hexagonal rooms. Each room of the unit was same providing no pre defined functions. Though the entrance of each unit was mainly into the living space from where there was access to the two bedrooms and on other side to the narrow passage leading to the dressing room and the toilet, which connected two units together. Materials and structure of these unit are similar to the square hut, the height of these huts was increased, allowing more light to enter and making it more spacious. The spacious volumes allowed for allocations of different functions to the different rooms. More of these huts have survived as compared to the square huts. Many of the hexagonal modules, with minor changes, still function as family units. Some like the square huts also function as guest accommodation.


Fig. 2.34 Scattered hexagonal units

Fig. 2.35 Interior of a hexagonal hut


Observations Both types of modular huts, the hexagonal and the square hut are self organized on site in varied numbers addressing proximities and orientations in order to ensure minimal privacy. Both are approached from the main gate via the community kitchen. Since the functions in each structure are confined to minimal private needs i.e. sleeping and toilet, all the other activities take place in the community kitchen, making it a node of community interaction.

Fig. 2.36 Diagram showing organization of spaces

Fig. 2.37 Diagram showing approaches to the huts

Two square units joined together, was the first expression of organization where two individual units shared a facility, later with the hexagonal plan, the scope of merging more units increased catering for larger needs.

The individual square units are organized in such a way that they are approached from a common space, which is the node of interaction between the two units. In case of the hexagonal hut, the two units are oriented in opposite directions, making the approach and the openings in opposite orientations. This suggests, that the hexagonal hut attempted to address the need of privacy.

The large three sided openings in both the huts are oriented radially to the outside making them it visually and physically connected to the outside. When the windows are closed, it provides a complete cut off from the outside, and slits in the window ensure light and ventilation.

Fig. 2.38 Diagram showing openings and visual extent

The fenestration play a major role in defining the nature of the structure since when open, the hut is completely extrovert to its surroundings, where as when shut it becomes introvert in nature.

Fig. 2.39 Diagram showing layers of privacy

In both the cases, the footprint of the hut is confined to its enclosure. Thus the enclosure starkly mark the difference between inside and outside, though in the case of hexagonal hut, house activities extended towards the outside, since the entrances were in opposite direction and a transition is also seen. This being the case since the entrance leads to the living room, this becomes the semi private space. The entrance space further leads to the bedrooms which are the most private spaces, so the degree of introversion is more as compared to that in the square hut.


In a way, this settlement could be compared to the primitive settlements of man or indigenous man, where the enclosure was just a protection from the external environment. Similar to the primitive structures the forms were a mix of organic and geometric shape with the set of materials and techniques easily available. The volumes were singular and left untreated, exposing building materials in their natural state. The structure and the scale was proportionate to the nature of basic activities and ease of build-ability. The individual structures expressed the same concept of enclosure, but there is a more structural and organizational clarity. The tetra hedral roof structure did not just act as an enclosure, but also expressed its understanding of light, ventilation and interaction. The wooden structure is designed with clarity, since it not only creates a complicated tetra hedral structure but was also tweaked to accommodate the openings. Unlike the primitive structures, these weren’t single units forming a circle for the community. Two or more were joined together to provide for basic facilities and were spread out in the land offering voluntary interaction.

Fig. 2.40 Primitive hut

Fig. 2.41 Primitive settlement Fig. 2.42 Igloo organization organization

The structure being modular in nature, could be repeated n number of times on site. It used locally available materials, could be easily produced by hand and the elements of the structures could be mass produced and assembled quickly. However the process of construction here was calculated and required craftsmanship unlike the primitive huts, which was a result of a intuitive process and understanding of local materials. Being standardized and neutral, the enclosure did not allow freedom of personalization, hence the expression of individuality was the least and suggests towards the temporary ownership of the inhabitant. It has not tried to cater to individual needs of the inhabitants but has set a basic standard for everyone to follow. The walls and the entrance act as the distinct threshold, creating a bold difference between the inside and the outside, where everything outside the enclosure is common, hence the sense of territoriality was minimal. The spatial layers like the private, public , semi - pubic etc. do not exist in these dwellings, since these only accommodate the individual’s private needs as all other communal activities were to be performed in the community kitchen ,increasing the sense of collective.

Fig. 2.43 Exploded view of the square unit

Fig. 2.44 Exploded view of the square unit


Fig. 2.45 Vision of Auromodele by Roger Anger

2.5.1 b. Auromodele Auromodele was conceived as a settlement of 2000 inhabitants. As the name implies, this settlement was to serve as a model for the city and to be a playing field, a laboratory for trial and error and concrete experimentation towards discovering the nature of the collective life that could be expected within the ideal city. The plan was to build integrated houses, gardens, schools, small scale units, and public facilities in a collective environment.

Fig. 2.46 Early houses in Auromodele

Between 1971 and 1974, Roger designed a group of free form houses that were extremely flexible and open in plan. However the larger plan was abandoned and only the initial clusters remain. In the beginning people rejected the plan as Roger’s houses were highly futuristic with pucca houses and infrastructure and people then wanted basic life, so they chose to build their own individual houses. So only 9 houses were made of the larger plan inhabit 2000 people. These houses were unified by the consistent vocabulary of design elements and construction techniques.

Fig. 2.47 Site diagram of Auromodele

These individual houses were connected with each other by circulation spaces, walkways and bridges internally, planned to give each individual the basic facilities like washing, living, kitchen etc and with collective facilities and infrastructure at a collective level. However only nine of these sculptural forms were built according to the plan, hence the whole idea of community living did not succeed leaving behind alienated forms of high expression of freedom.


Fig. 2.48 Plan of a house unit in Auromodele






Fig. 2.49 Vision of Auromodele by Roger Anger

The earth-red coloured low scale structures smoothly rise out of the ground with flowing forms intentionally created to depict emergence from the ground. The smooth transition between the house and its surrounding was intended to reduce the visual impact of the houses. Door and window openings of various sizes seem to be sculpted out of these volumes. In sharp contrast , doubly curved shell roofs in ferro cement painted white, float over the earth mound with bold sculpted water spouts. These roofs rest on curved walls which extend into the interior, to create gently defined spaces. These initially planned closely arranged houses have ample privacy due to the way their private rooms are cocooned with the rising earth mound ,while the main living areas open via verandas to face the sea view. A versatile material ferro cement was found to be appropriate for this earliest settlement. The houses here were conceived as free and flexible living spaces organized with open plans with the exception of kitchen and bathroom. Double curved roof surfaces were proposed to allow the form to contribute to the material strength and stability. The material with experimentation of form could achieve spans of up to 13m with material thickness being only 25mm.


Fig. 2.50

Openings that lead to semi private verandas

Fig. 2.51 Ferro Cement structure in the making


Fig. 2.52 Abstract site plan

All the individual houses are placed in a vast land in a gated community approached by a linear informal street and internally connected by bridges and pathways. All the houses in the community are free from individual boundaries and fences, leaving the surrounding freely accessible to the community, where the landscape elements unify the entire community. The houses are oriented considering the climate, at the same time also address visual privacy within the community by orienting large openings in different directions in the private spaces.

Fig. 2.53 Diagram showing openings and visual extent

Fig. 2.54 Diagram showing layers of privacy

Fig. 2.55 Diagram showing layers of privacy

Fig. 2.56 Section of a unit in Auromodele

Most of the houses in the community, have an open plan, that radially looks to the outside. Large openings on the peripheral surfaces make the houses visually connected to the outside and also allow physical extensions that lead to a semi open space. This semi open space is partially contained by the mound. This not only creates a transition between inside and outside, but also ensures visual privacy. The openings towards the entrance of the house are smaller, leaving larger openings towards the back of the house, ensuring privacy and private micro-environments.

The highly sculptural form of the buildings suggests an attempt to relate to the ground and the sky since at that time the land around was barren and depleted without any vegetation. The earth coloured walls appear dissipate in the ground or rising up from the ground and the white double curved roof suggests a relationship with the sky. The materials used in construction are a tool for creating these sculptural forms. In this case, a general technique of ferro cement was used to create generic forms, which gives the entire community a coherent language. The use of material and form suggests the attempt to display innovation and technology and a radical approach towards the future.

“A habitat seeking to be a “home for consciousness of the future” could only be manifested in shapes that were divorced from the geography, culture and sociology of the place.“ (Anger,1971)

Fig. 2.57 Section of a unit in Auromodele


Inferences Auromodele was a first step towards permanence, privacy and durability. The approach suggests an attempt towards the vision of Auroville, which was towards an ideal city that would become a bridge between the past and the future, unlike a rural temporary settlement. These houses are fully independent in terms of daily chores, which voluntarily could be a part of the whole. Unlike Aspiration where the footprint of the built was kept minimal and thresholds or the in-between spaces did not exist, in Auromodele, the built has been extended out. The walls extend out radially towards nature, where the sloping walls act as the threshold by which the inside smoothly dissipates towards the outside, marking a large footprint on the site. Large openings in each unit, radially look towards the outside, and yet allow the choice of introversion or extroversion. In case of Aspiration, the openings allow interaction in the form of visual interaction with the outside and the community, where as in case of the Auromodele, the large openings respond to the semi open spaces that provides visual privacy. The form of both units show their strong relationship with the ground and sky, since the landscape around was barren. The form in aspiration was confined to the basic needs, where local material was used in a way that ensured efficient and quick construction. As a result, standardized units were spread across the community, where individuality was expressed the least and suggested a temporary ownership. The form of the building and the layers of privacy in case of Auromodele, suggest a high expression of individualism and freedom.


2.6 An insight into the built manifestation until today


Independent yet connected

Fig. 2.58 Diagram showing individual and collective relationship in the early settlements

Fig. 2.59 Last school, Roger, 1971

Fig. 2.60 AgniJaata, The Fired house, Ray Meeker

Fig. 2.61 A building in Mud block

In the early communities like Aspiration, clusters of huts with communal kitchens and relaxation areas were built out of palm thatch and casuarina wood using modified indigenous building techniques. Auromodele houses were not only more permanent, but also provided protection against the external elements. In addition they were equipped with their own kitchens, bathrooms, and private spaces introducing an element of individualism to what had thus far been a communal experience. This marked as redefined Auroville’s spirit of collective. The sculptural forms also showed high degree of self expression and experimentation, which changed the notion of a building being four walls and roof and instilled the spirit of material researches and experimentation with form and its systems in the later buildings. Each buildings of Auromodele had their own form , with preconception of privacy, function and hierarchy. After these settlements, there was a period of slow growth rate, poor land access and infrastructure, limited availability of materials and inadequate capital funding for collective projects. As a result, the individuals who arrived in Auroville had to make their houses and inhabit them. This led to isolated self-built houses in built in isolated clusters and provoked a creative revolution. Being an autonomous body, with no practical guideline, the physical manifestation was a result of freedom of expression and experimentation along with the aspiration of the individuals and the resources available. The freedom also suggested a huge responsibility to define the architectural character of the place. It was then necessary for people to settle in isolated pockets in order to protect the land from encroachment. Many of these settlements have continued to grow in these locations, sinking deeper roots.

Amongst these experiments were the clay houses, prominently being the “baked house“ and the “compressed mud block house“. The Baked house was first constructed by a pioneer Ray Meeker through the Hassan Fathy’s principle of catenary vault system using wet clay bricks and mortar. After the basic construction the structure is fired from the inside along with all the architectural accessories including floor tiles, wall claddings and fixtures to make it permanent and weather resistant using minimum amount of resources. After a series of experiments, he came up with a solution of mixing coal dust from the mines with the wet clay and after sun drying the bricks, the structure is constructed using the same technique. However in this case no external fuel is used to fire and the charcoal within the bricks burns out at the same time baking it course by course. In the case of compressed mud blocks, various experiments were done, where mud is mixed with 5% of cement and bricks are manufactured on site manually using a hand press that could be operated single handedly. Many residences and public institutions were made in mud in various forms and systems.


Another experiment was by an artist Rolf, a house of flowing daliesquelike forms rejecting the then very common keet and bamboo structures. with ferro cement windows. The roof was a mixture of vermiculite, sand and cement laid over bamboo matting and strips of pakkumaram wood, all supported on granite pillars. The walls are separated from the roof structure and are brick with ferro cement windows. Like these many experiments happened in bits and parts, not only in tangible terms but also in terms of social, economical and political structures. Fig. 2.62 House in Ami, by Rolf

Simultaneously along with the inhabitation, One of the major collective activity that undertook is afforestation. The early settlers began with planting millions of saplings as a measure of self preservation from storm, heat and to provide shade to create inhabitable conditions. This process of development along with communities lead to a better understanding between man-nature relationships, where architecture can be assumed to become a stage for the interplay of natural processes. Although it started as an anthropocentric need, it has a far reaching impact regionally and locally.

According to the land suitability and land use Proposal 2004, during 1986-2000, the city developed in an unorganized way, with small scale housing projects, Primary and secondary schools and a few important public projects like the solar kitchen and the visitor’s center. The siting was almost based on availability of land and access to it, costing, and infrastructure like water, electricity etc. The population growth which was <3% p.a. did not allow a structured growth, though the small scale housing projects initiated an attempt towards the collective.

The major turning point came in 1988, when “Auroville foundation act”1 was passed. By that time the resident architects begun to develop gated communities in their own individual styles, with an attempt to solve pressures of urbanization, rather than unified development. (Kundoo, 1991) These communities were proposed as a whole by the architects, where they set certain guidelines regarding material, techniques, basic elements of the house and the nature of the community. The final designs were a result of the architects base idea and user’s input. These guidelines were differed from community to community, though each had coherent characteristics.

These organic developments led to the formation of several segregated communities on scattered lands procured for Auroville. The city’s development slowed down, while the residents continued to apply research in a wide range of areas. A considerable amount of exploration was carried out in terms of material and form.


1- An Act to provide for the acquisition and transfer of the undertakings of Auroville and to vest such undertakings in a foundation established for the purpose with a view to making long- term arrangements for the better management and further development of Auroville in accordance with its original charter and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

The experimentation was seen in CSEB, Adobe, mud, rammed earth, Ferro cement, bamboo, bio-concrete etc in various forms like vaults, dome, arches and various enclosure elements. Also, there was a gradual shift from individual scattered settlement to collective models like clustered low rise buildings. A collective models called Samasti, is collective project which wsa proposed by a group of architects aiming at living together in a dense fabric. The building language of the community is similar, since one module of a building was devised considering climate and materials. The constant elements were mud block walls, tiled pitch roofs with large overhangs, wind catcher funnels for ventilation. With the change in density, the model also attempted at creating a series of open and covered spaces, consciously considering hierarchy of public and private space to fulfill the individual’s intimacy as well as collective social patterns. Fig. 2.63 Samasti Community

This collective model also incorporated common areas and courtyards. Here we can see that along with formalized experimentation with materials and elements, the spatial roles also get affected with the change from individuality to the collective. Where initially the individuals built their own houses on vast lands catering to their aspirations and freedom, now with close proximities in the collective living environment, the sense of enclosure and privacy and landholdings is assumed to be affected. Fig. 2.64 Clustered housing community, Surrender

From 2000 there was a drive to organize the city according to the master plan. The communities till now were organic in growth with scattered unplanned and unorganized settlement, where for need of control emerged. The first step was the preparation of the master plan 2025 which gave proposals for land usage, density, and other innovative models like water conservation, rain water harvesting, building technology, community practices, energy saving etc. For example, for the residential purpose the maximum living space per person is proposed 30sqm. and more than 50 % of the area of the site needs to be unpaved. Though these proposals were not implemented as rules, but served as guidelines. The last two decades have seen planned consolidated dwellings towards the collective in order to accommodate the increasing population and future needs. Today’s Auroville contains a wide range of dwellings from single to collective housing, along with considerable number of educational, institutional and public buildings that display various experimentations. The spirit of experimentation and freedom in search of new ways of dealing in aspects of individual and collective has been a constant attempt. The Individuals were from all over, they brought in their expertise as well as influences, and these influences are seen in the various architectural practices.


Fig. 2.65 Proposal map according to master plan 2025, Towards Roger’s galaxy

Fig. 2.66 Current Map of residential Zone of Auroville

In the light of the last 4 decades we can say that the architecture of Auroville can not be reduced to a typology or style, since the living patterns and lifestyles have changed drastically over the years, with the evolving physical context, growing numbers, infrastructures and familiarity with the land. Though there are various common aspects of its architecture evident from the early communities like Aspiration to the consolidated collective housing projects of today, these variants are continuously redefining the architecture of Auroville. Some important aspects that can be seen are experimentation with building materials and technology, architectural expression through forms, Eco-friendly climate responsive designs, integration with the natural surrounding, and most importantly the constant struggle between ‘individual and collective’2. The nature of these aspects have been constantly redefined with change in time and need.


2- Here by collective is referred to individual neighborhoods which form the larger township and individual is referred to the individual within this abstract or defined collective.


Inauguration of Auroville

Scattered Temporary Settlements Outside the township

Centre and abstract boundaries defined

Early communities of Aspiration and Auromodele Outside the defined boundaries 1971

Construction of the centre, Matri Mandir Begins

Scattered Individual Settlements in small gated communities In the green belt


Few schools and public institutions, Bharat Niwas

Small Scale Housing projects and major public buildings Towards the centre

1986 1988

Auroville Foundation Act

High-density High-Rise In the defined centre


Master Plan 2025


2025 Fig. 2.67 Time line of patterns and events in Auroville’s 5 decades


3. Premise of study: 3.1. Focus of study The study aims at understanding Auroville as a place through its built form. As mentioned earlier, the built can be studied by means of its spatial and formal manifestations with respect to forces that shape them. Auroville being a unique example, the parameters will be defined by relationships important to Auroville, as established according to the nature of built forms from its conception till now. In the case of Auroville and its background, the relationship between “ the individual and collective” has been and is a pivot, around which the nature of architecture is constantly evolving, from scattered built forms on the periphery of the township to consolidated buildings towards the center today. Another significant aspect in the architecture of Auroville has been the conscious experimentation with materials and techniques along with exploration of form; the nature of which also has been evolving with “the individual and the collective“. So in order to understand Auroville architecture, these will be the main aspects of the study. This study focuses particularly on dwellings since they manifest the following characteristics: - Auroville has a wide variety of houses, and has seen a constant change in the typology of dwellings, where the relationship of the individual in the collective is constantly evolving. - Since man’s most intimate relationships with the context are reflected in the dwelling. In the case of Auroville, due to the abstract guidelines of the charter individuals practiced the freedom to interpret these abstract guidelines due to which a high degree of self expression as well as experimentation is seen. Norberg Schulz mentions in Genius Loci “Dwelling can be considered as a complete man-place relationship. When man dwells he is simultaneously located in space and is exposed to a certain environment character. It involves man’s interaction with environment at both physical and psychological level characterized by aspects of orientation and identification “ According to him orientation and identification are primary aspects of man’s being in the world. Identification is the basis of man’s sense of belonging and orientation is that function that enables him to be what is a part of his nature. Hence dwelling serves as a shelter, giving a sense of belonging, responsibility, privacy, etc. to its inhabitant and also is culturally congruent to the society.


As discussed earlier, the dwellings in Auroville, for this study can be primarily categorized into the following:

Fig. 3.1 Individual Scattered Houses

- Individual scattered houses These houses are mostly self built houses, which are built mainly on the periphery of Auroville. These single houses are scattered in the sparse area, often seen as a part of small gated communities. The case studies taken here are a part of the green belt, where it is advisable to be in harmony with nature and building eco-friendly, so the density of these settlements is maintained low. As a result of the fragmented nature in which land was bought in Auroville, there are many isolated pockets. It was then necessary for people to settle in these locations in order to protect the land from encroachment. Many of these settlements have continued to grow in these locations, sinking deeper roots.

- High density low rise community These Houses are seen as a part of the planned communities near the center in the residential zone. These communities are often proposed by architects, though the design process of each unit incorporates involvement of the user. The elements and design language stay constant within the community as per the architect, though each have variations according to users.

Fig. 3.2 High density low rise

Some important principles for the residential zone have been vaguely defined : - No single detached houses. -Living areas to conform to certain norms based on the proposed number of inhabitants. An area allocation for each individual of private built up space and of the common area as well. - The construction of residences and the landscaping of gardens within the City area should be environmentally sensitive. - High density high rise community These houses are in the form of individual apartments, in collective vertical living mainly in the residential zone and center of Auroville. These collective housings are designed by the Architects, and the inhabitants are the end users. In some cases, a few possibilities are given to allow for modification according to the needs. The major attempt is to consolidate the individual living and provide collective amenities to meet the need of future population requirements. The individual is assumed to be redefined at various levels in the collective. This is the intersection of a personal life with a collective experience, a Community called Auroville. But at a certain point in this story these words ‘personal’ and ‘ collective’- myself and others- which we think we know so well begin to blur, begin to become something else, begin to merge and re-merge as something completely other.’ (Lithman, 1980).

Fig. 3.3 High Density High Rise


3.2. Particularization of premise The parameters to understand the selected types of dwellings, bearing in mind the individual and collective relationships and experimentation of materials, techniques and form will be derived from the generic premises of space, form and making. This generic premise define the relationship of built form with man, place and technique. While studying Auroville, the parameters will be specific to Auroville and the main aspects concerning its built form.

1. Space “Space constantly encompasses our being. Through the volume of space, we move, see forms, hear sounds, feel breeze, smell the fragrance of a flower garden in bloom. It is a material substance like wood or stone. Yet it is an inherently formless vapor. Its visual form, its dimension and scale, the quality of its light- all of these qualities depend on our perception of the spatial boundaries defined by elements of form. As space begins to be captured, enclosed, molded and organized by the elements of mass, architecture comes into being.� (Ching, 1979) Space can be understood as an enclosure, a continuum and as an extension. In reference to enclosure, space means the enclosed area separated from its surrounding as a particular place. In a space defined by enclosure, the character of the space comes from the nature of its enclosing surface i.e. the boundaries which define its limits. Points defining the limits of the space can be of various kinds; architectural, urban and natural. For example, the garden in front of the house, defined by an area of lawn, a border of bushes or a group of trees are natural elements that enclose a space. The public space outside or the street also adds to the space. The space does not merely comprises of individual rooms, but also elements that provide an outward view. Space as a continuum refers to the spaces being conceived as boundaries, openings, thresholds and notions of inside outside; where the wall as a means of enclosure is not merely an outer limitation but stresses on the separation of inside and outside and its treatment in terms of edge condition, fenestrations etc define its relationship. Space as extension addresses the relationship to its context. In a context like Auroville where there is constant redefinition of the relationship of the individual and collective, various spatial relations are assumed to be generated and transformed. Keeping this in mind, space can be broadly understood by : - Spatial organization: The spatial organization of built form is primarily informed by the functions it caters to. The organization defines the axes, which reflect the internal relationships as well as the nature of relationship with the outside.


The nature of the spaces and their organization define its layers i.e. enclosed, semi open and open which further define the layers of privacy of the built. The spatial organization, also plays a role at the larger level, where relationship to the larger context plays an important role i.e. how a built form is organized on a site with respect to various other physical elements and their interrelationships.

Areas and Domains Areas and domains can be understood by the claim of territories, thresholds and the areas that define the individual and the collective. The areas get further defined by paths and approaches leading to the built, since paths divides the environment into domains and are a physical connector of the space and approaches to an extent define the nature of the built. These factors, can be determined by geographical factors and connections between types of activities or communication. Territories are claimed with the primary need of privacy, identity and security. These can be marked by formal fences, boundaries and gates. They also can be marked by informal indications of presence with manmade or natural elements. These elements suggest, the territory of the building beyond its real habitation. Territories can be between people or function, within communities and between communities. The undefined limits and boundaries of the act of habitation result in overlapping domains, creating transition zones between the domains. These transitions can be called thresholds. “The threshold provide the key to the transition and connection between the areas with divergent territorial claims and, as a place in its own right it constitutes essentially, the spatial condition for the meeting and dialogue between the areas of different orders.� (Hertsberger,2008)

Relationship to the context As mentioned earlier space can be defined by its enclosure, i.e. the space separated from its surroundings. Though the act of enclosure does not merely separate the space from the outside, it establishes a relationship with the outside. The relationship is reflected by the organization with respect to the immediate context, degree of porosity, the peripheries of the space, nature of openings in the enclosure, the nature of the center etc. According to Norberg Schulz the role of a space is to control the environment in order to allow human interactions with and within a context, where space plays a role of physical control, a functional frame, social milieu and cultural symbolization.


2. Form “Architectural form is the point of contact between mass and space... Architectural Forms, textures, materials, modulation of light and shade, color, all combine to inject a quality or spirit that articulates space. The quality of the architecture will be determined by the skills of the designer in using and relating these elements, both in the interior spaces and in the spaces around the buildings“ (Bacon, 1974) The manifestation of the relationships between a built form and its surroundings in the form of the construct gives it particular character. Character is the means of identity within the built environment. Form is a totality which reveals the constituent elements in their relative positions thus making the observer conscious of space as a formal element. In the case of Auroville, with no reference to the past, in terms of its existing built forms, no architectural typology or form was predefined. With abstract guidelines, in the beginning each individual practiced their own understanding of the context, and there has been a constant redefinition to address the changing context. Keeping this in mind, form can be broadly understood by: - Nature of form The nature of the form depends on the relationship between man and his environment. Along with cultural, symbolic and utilitarian requirements, form also reflects shared goals, values, aspirations, settlement and landscape, as well as its climate and technology. Since the form isn’t confined to the space and function, it is a vehicle for meaning, even when form is seen in terms of materials, elements and arrangements, it expresses meanings. The Nature of form can also be understood as the relationship of the built with its physical context i.e. the land, the sky, landscape etc. These relationships are reflected by the nature of enclosing elements. For instance, the way the building stands on ground, reflects its relationship with the land, the orientation and porosity of enclosure, defines its degree of introversion or extroversion with respect to the surrounding. - Parts and Assembly of the form The form as a whole, is a resultant of its parts, the nature of the whole is a result of the close relationship between its parts. Thus all elements of the form (the walls, the structure, the infill, the openings and the floor), its nature and its assembly defines the nature of the built form. The choice of elements and assembly are often governed by availability, economy, time, suitability with context as well as individual aspirations. Thus the form cannot be reduced to a single aspect of choice of elements and their arrangements, neither can it be seen purely as a vehicle for meaning.


3. Making The making of the built form along with the assembling, joining, erecting also includes aspects like, the nature of material, the techniques used for its construction and its finishes since the meaning and character cannot be explained in purely aesthetic or formal terms, but are intimately connected with making. - Nature of Materials The nature of the material determines the nature of the building system used for the construction and thus has the potential to determine the form of the built. At times, the availability of local material for building purposes, results in adapting the building task to the properties of the available material and the transferability determines the size and quantity of the material used. -Technique Technique refers to the method of doing things, in architecture, the method of making the built environment and its components, of construction and of the building. The way in which the materials are used to build, give it a certain character. Material and the techniques together affect the formal structure. The technique depends on the nature of the material and within its constraints also has possibilities of choice like mechanical production, hand labor, and standardization. The choice of materials and technique is not only affected by the availability and economy but also reflect the values and conscious thoughts of the user/designer as well as the place. The finishes and articulation of the materials are also suggestive of the values of the individual and the collective.

“... A house is a single thing, as well as a collective of many, and to make it requires a conceptual leap from the individual components to a vision of the whole. The choices..... represent ways of assembling the parts. .... the basic parts of a house can be put together to make more than just basic parts: They can also make space, pattern and outside domains. They dramatize the most elementary act which architecture has to perform. To make one plus one equals more than two, you must in doing any one thing you think important (making rooms, putting them together, or fitting them to the land) do something else that you think important as well (make spaces live, establish a meaningful pattern inside or claim other realms outside). “ Charles Moore The place of houses.


4. Case studies In chapter 3.1, dwellings are categorized into three types. Under each category, one or more houses/communities are selected. These are analyzed with the parameters of space, form and making, that are particular to the case of Auroville and the relationship between “Individual and collective“ as arrived at in chapter 3.2. It is to be noted that no formal format is followed while analyzing each case since certain aspects vary from case to case and only the important aspects of each are looked at here, though the sequence of the parameters i.e. Space, form and making are maintained for all case studies. At the end of each case study, one important aspect is taken ahead to introduce an example falling under the same category to get a better understanding of the category. Preliminary inferences are made at the end of each case study and its example. Later these preliminary inferences are linked together, to get an overall understanding of the place. The case study and its examples are as follows : 4.1. Individual Scattered settlements 4.1.1. House in Newlands forest community 4.1.1 a. House in Pichandikulam forest community 4.1.2. House in Adventure forest community 4.1.2 a. House in Petite ferme community 4.2. High density low rise community 4.2.1. Swayam community 4.2.1 a. Yantra community 4.3. High density high rise community 4.3.1. Luminosity 4.3.1 a. Citadines

Things to keep in mind while viewing the diagrams in all the case studies :

Public domain

Cone showing visual extent

Cone showing physical extent

Physical axis/ movement axis

Private domain

Visual axis

Fig. 4. 1 Legend for the diagrams in the study


Overall orientation

Fig. 4. 2 Map locating the case studies and examples

Legend: 1. House in Newlands forest community 1a. House in Pichandikulam forest community 2. House in Adventure forest community 2a. House in Petite ferme community 3. Swayam community 3a. Yantra community 4. Luminosity 4a. Citadines



Fig. 4. 3 Site plan of Newlands community

4.1 Individual Scattered Settlements 4.1.1 House in New Land Forest Year : 1992 125sqm. - Two inhabitants The house is situated in a small gated community in the New land Forest. The community being in the green belt, is sparsely inhabited, having six scattered over a vast green land. Informal mud pathways lead radially to the individual houses from the common parking and are separated physically and visually by thick vegetation and vast distances, since there are no formal boundaries or fences inside the community. Most of these individual houses comprise of a cluster of 2-3 free standing units unified by the landscape. The entire community is visually coherent in nature since it uses similar overall form and materials, though spatially each house is distinctly different. The overall form of each is a cluster of 2 or more rectilinear units with a pitch roof and the construction materials used are mud, wood and bricks. Most of these houses are self designed and some are self built as well.


Site elevation





5 3 6



Site plan

Fig. 4. 4 Drawings of the house







Legend : 1. Entrance bridge 2. Approach bridge 3. Outdoor space 4. Main unit 5. Kitchen unit 6. Toilet unit 7. Existing structure

Fig. 4. 5 The bridge marking the territory of the house

The house is approached by an informal pathway, leading to a small stone bridge that marks the approach to the house and there are no fences or boundaries enclosing the area around the house. Circular stones placed intuitively form the approach to the house. These stones further lead to a granite bridge over the water body leading to an outdoor space, which is surrounded by three free standing structures. The three units functionally are ; the main unit consists of the living room and the study and bedroom on the first floor; the other two units are the kitchen and the toilet. Similar to Zen gardens, the intuitively placed rough and smooth granite stones, pebbles, water-body, earth, wood, water lilies, reeds, trees and orchids make the landscape of the house. The landscape around the house creates a micro-environment of its own connecting the units together and blurs the boundaries of the house that define the inside and the outside.

Fig. 4. 6 View of the central space that acts as a nucleus

The space created in the center of the three units becomes the nucleus since it is a physical and visual extension of the three units. Thus it unifies the three individual units into a house. The individual units have large openings in form for doors towards this center, which when open, the outside becomes a part of the house, while when they are closed, it becomes a neutral space. In absence of any fence or boundary, the spaces around the house are freely accessible.

The kitchen and the main house are contained with a water body around its periphery. Both these structures are built adjacent to an existing brick structure and elevated on stilts to protect from rainwater, since it is the lowest part of the Fig. 4. 7 Diagram showing the physical extensions of the units site. towards the central space

The observations suggest the house attempts to make nature and landscape a part of it in order to create a micro environment within the house without creating a large footprint on the land. The large openings address privacy and security, by making it introvert and extrovert whenever needed. An individual here, uses the collective resources i.e. nature, as a part of its whole in way that it does not claim the resources, leaving it closest to its original state.

Fig. 4. 8 Diagram showing the abstract habitation of the house, where the bridge in red , marks the approach to the house


South elevation

Section through unit and existing block



Legend : 1. Living room 2. Study 3. Existing structure





First floor plan

Ground floor plan


4. Bedroom 5. Balcony 6. Terrace

N 1



Fig. 4. 9 Drawings of the main unit

The main unit houses the living room, the work space on the ground floor and a bedroom on the first floor. This rectangular structure is elevated on stilts and is built adjacent to an existing structure on ground. The large opening at the corner of the living room opens up to a semi-covered platform, which acts as an extension as well as the entrance to the living area. The platform is accessed by the rocks placed over the pond. The nature of the openings of the unit play a major role in defining the layers of privacy. The living room has large sliding doors on the corner, making the corner completely open visually and physically. Here the semi-covered platform acts as a threshold to the house, since it shares a blurred boundary with the inside and the outside. The openings in the workspace are comparatively smaller, which makes it more private in nature. The layers of privacy also act vertically in this house, where the bedroom is on the first floor, ensuring complete visual privacy.

Fig. 4. 10 Layers of privacy and physical extent

Fig. 4. 11 Diagram showing visibility through openings



The openings on the upper floor also are large, allowing visual connection to the outside, the balcony extended outside the bedroom further suggests the attempt to connect to the outside.

Fig. 4. 12 Diagram showing visual axis and layers of privacy through vertical spatial organization

The vertical spatial organization play a significant role in segregating private and public activities to ensure privacy, allowing the house to be open to a large extent. These openings allow the house to be visually as well as physically connected to the outside, at the same time can become completely introvert. Here the individual unit first opens to its immediate surrounding, which forms the first layer of interaction, by inviting it in and physically extending out, making the individual a part of the collective environment. Here the boundaries of an individual blurs with the collective resources, where the claim of the individual is reduced significantly by taking the most private space vertically. Two double storey rectilinear frame structure with a pitch roof, raised from the ground on stilts and a low height open-to-sky unit centrally connected by an open space, primarily defines the form of the house. In the main unit, the vertical enclosure is defined by a wooden frame-structure with infill which is supported on stilts and beams. The structure of the house is raised since its location is in the low lying area of the site. It also ensures protection from termites and humidity. This repetitive structure creates linearity and at the same time allows modularity within the enclosure. The rectilinear enclosure on the ground floor is partitioned by the structure, where as the upper floor is defined by one linear space.

Fig. 4. 13 Primary form of the house

The main wooden structure and its intermediate members allows variation in the size of the openings. The size of openings in the enclosure and its nature transforms its form and orientation. The large sliding doors define the corner of the living room. When the doors of the rectilinear living room are open, the vertical boundary of the enclosure is weakened, making its geometry abstract. The abstract geometry allows the space to extend beyond its boundaries, making the house extrovert in nature. The structure and the method of construction also allow organically shaped openings on the enclosing surface, that adds a character to the house. Few organically shaped openings are provided above the above the lintel to ensure light and ventilation in the house. Fig. 4. 14 View from the living room towards the central space


wooden shingles coated with cachew oil for roofing

opening in the roof

wooden structure to support the roofing

opening above wooden lintel supported by bamboo sticks wattle & daub infills finished with lime plaster for interior surface of walls wooden floor boards used for flooring perforations in the wattle & daub walls cantilevered balcony supported with a reclaimed wooden structure wooden shingled lean-to roofs lining all the walls of the house large openings looking towards the natural surrounding reclaimed wooden members forming the frame structure of the house wattle and daub infill wall wooden shutters of reclaimed wooden existing brick structure insitu concrete stilt and beam structure artificial water body running along the periphery of the house

Fig. 4. 15 Exploded diagram showing system of assembly and elements of the unit


The pitch roof defining the roofing element of the form and its angle is a direct response to the tropical climate. The pitch roof and its large overhangs are the most significant element of the form. It is supported on the repetitive wooden trusses, though there are variations in the structure to accommodate clear height and access. All the openings and semi open spaces are covered with lean to roofs at different heights. These act as shading devices as well as add character to the form. The primary form of the house, is a result of its structural system, which attempts to be low impact, since all the elements can be dismantled and used again. The decision to raise the structure suggests that the house attempts to have a low impact on land and be in harmony with the nature, since the footprint is minimized and does not affect the natural processes.

Fig. 4. 16 View of the main unit and the natural surrounding

Here the form of the house, refers to its temporal nature, where the individual co-exists in the collective shared environment i.e. nature, without hindering it. In many ways this house refers to the qualities of Japanese architecture and landscape - the elevated wooden frame structure with light infill and large sliding doors, the tip of the roof, interaction with the natural surrounding, and the treatment of landscape. All these are referred qualities of traditional Japanese architecture, manifested spatially and formally as a response to its context. The primary constructional method used in the house is wattle and daub. It is a composite building material used for making walls, in which a woven lattice of split bamboo or cane strips called wattle is daubed with a sticky material usually made of some combination of wet soil, clay, sand, animal dung and straw. The straw here acts as reinforcement, and helps to hold the mix together as well as to control shrinkage and provide flexibility. The daub is mixed and applied by hand.

Fig. 4. 17 Interior view of the space on the first floor

In this particular house, the Wooden structure rests on an in-situ concrete stilt and beam structure. For creating the walls, split bamboo is woven between the wooden structure and is plastered on each side with a mixture of Earth and straw. In this house, bit sand was added to reduce cracking. In the case of the kitchen structure chopped rice straw was mixed though in case of the main building chopped straw is replaced with coconut fibers as an experiment.

Fig. 4. 18 Image showing the making of wattle and daub walls


The technique and materials used in the construction are based on hand skills, since none of the materials are mechanically or industrially produced nor do the techniques involve mechanization, though a small amount of RCC is used for the elevated structure of the house. Apart from the walls, there is extensive use of reused wood in this house where wood is used as the structure of the floor, the floor boards, trusses of the pitch roof as well as the roofing tiles in form of wooden shingles. The majority of the window and door frames are also made of wood, Where as some openings are made with the help of thin bamboo supports. While weaving the split bamboo in the wooden structure, some thin bamboo sticks were fixed inside the structure. These bamboo sticks are not covered layered with wattle and daub, as a result openings are created. Since the wattle and daub is done with hand, it allows openings of organic shapes and varied sizes.

Fig. 4. 19 Image of semi open space outside the house.

Most of the materials used in the construction are left exposed to its natural state, though certain internal mud walls are hand plastered with lime, to lighten up the space and the wooden shingles are coated with cashew oil to prevent damage from rain. The materials and techniques used in the construction of the house suggests the conscious choice of using locally available material that can be explored and experimented by hand with minimal external energy. The treatment of openings, the techniques used, and the landscape elements used around the house suggest that it is built intuitively by trial and error over time. Fig. 4. 20 Image of an organically shaped opening.


Similar to the house in the New lands Forest, another house in Auroville also uses the same constructional method of wattle and daub. The constructional method being the same, the houses differ largely in their spatial and formal manifestations. This house is too is located in a small gated community in the green belt, called Pichandikulam Forest.

Fig. 4. 21 Site plan of Pichandikulam Forest community

4.1.1 a. House in Pichandikulam Forest Year : 2010 125 qm. - Four inhabitants A singular east-west oriented linear structure with repetitive full height openings, raised from the ground on stilts with one large metal lean-to roof primarily defines the form of the house.

Fig. 4. 22 Diagram showing primary form of the house

Fig. 4. 23 Image of the building from its approach

Similar to the previous house, the vertical enclosure of the house is defined by a repetitive wooden frame structure with infill. In this case along with wattle and daub, ply wood is also used as infill in some parts and this wooden structure sits on an assembled precast RCC structure . The assembly consists of precast columns, beams and foundations connected with prefabricated clamps. The RCC footings are placed with a basin for a water body around each footing to prevent termites. A Galvalume (a mix of mild steel with an aluminum coating) Lean-to roof rests on wooden trusses, and a large overhang at the other side rests on diagonal struts attached to the tie member of the vertical structure with a prefabricated clamp. The lean-to roof and large overhangs are a response to the climate, also it is easy to install, dismantle and is low maintenance.


corrugated steel sheet (galvalume) for roofing

plywood panelling

timber truss structure along with wooden purlins and cross bracing

plywood infills with mud plaster wattle & daub infills

diagonal wooden supports suporting lean-to roof structure wooden french louvers with removable mosquito mesh wooden frame structure

kota stone flooring directly laid on the support structure below

precast rcc foundation beam grid structure joint with the remaining structure by clamps precast rcc footing placed in a basin as a waterbody

wooden entrance deck

Fig. 4. 24 Exploded diagram showing the system of assembly and elements used


Fig. 4. 25 Diagram showing layers of privacy and physical axis

The full height openings in the enclosing surface are defined by the standardized repetition of the frame-structure. The opening panels are made of standard size wooden frame and mesh. These standard panels are repeated in number to create different sizes of openings. The mesh allows the house to be visually open and constantly ventilated. The wooden panels can also be dismantled from the main structure. The choice of materials, system and its assembly are a result of combining local material and techniques along with industrialized and mechanized elements that allows all the elements of the house to be dismantled and assembled whenever required as well as ensure fast construction. It also makes the house low impact, which when removed, the natural surrounding, can go back its natural state. Elevating the structure also suggests a conscious choice of having minimal impact on land and its natural processes.

Fig. 4. 26 Image of footing being placed

Fig. 4. 27 Image of cane panels before daubing

The Formal manifestation here refers to its temporal nature, where process of making emphasizes on efficiency.

Fig. 4.28 Raw structural system after the assembly

Fig. 4. 29 Corner detail of the house

Fig. 4. 30 Pre casted elements with clamp joinery


South elevation

Cross section








Legend: 1. Vertical stone marking 2. Wooden Deck 3. Living + kitchen + dining 4. Store room 5. Bedroom

1 Site plan

N 0 1 2 3


Fig. 4. 31 Drawings of the house

The frame-structure allows modularity within the house, the space within the linear structure is divided by the frame structure with parallel panels. These parallel panels divide the house till the truss, and keep a linear axis open. The full height openings on both north and south side, keep all spaces visually open to the outside at all times, though the privacy is maintained by the size of openings according to the function.

The linear structure spatially gets divided into 5 parts i.e three bedrooms, a store room and a large open livingkitchen-dining room. The entrance of the house is through its living room, which is in the center, and all the bedrooms are at the ends. All the spaces are connected through an open linear axis. All the spaces within the house are physically accessible since no doors enclose these rooms, though the partitions ensure visual privacy within the house.

Fig. 4. 32 Diagram showing N/S visual axis

Fig. 4. 33 Diagram showing layers of privacy as well as the physical and visual axis

Fig. 4. 34 Diagram showing layers of privacy as well as the physical and visual axis


The house is surrounded by dense vegetation. Being in the green belt, the community is sparsely inhabited with low impact structures, visually and physically separated with distances and vegetation. An informal mud pathway leads to the house, where 3 vertical granite stones mark the approach to the house. In the absence of a fence or boundary, the stones and the vegetation around mark the abstract territory of the house.

Fig. 4. 35 Diagram showing the abstract territory of the house

In this house, the spatial organization of the consolidated rectangular shell suggests that the house attempts to be in harmony within a natural setup, allowing each part of the house to be visually connected to the outside on both the sides. In a way the individual here is a part of the collective shared environment i.e. Nature and its process. Being in a sparsely scattered settlement allows the house to be visually open to the outside, though it address privacy to a mild degree by controlling the nature of opening in the private spaces as well its functional organization. Fig. 4. 36 Stone members placed as notional territory markers

Fig. 4. 37 Approach towards the house


Inference Both the houses are placed in a similar physical context, though they differ largely in their spatial and formal manifestations. The physical similarities are the constructional method, the form elevated from the ground and a lean-to roof. In the case of the house in New lands the three individual units make nature a part of the house and co exists with it, by blurring the boundaries between the inside and the outside. Where as in case of the house in Pichandikulam, the consolidated structure, exists within nature. The proximities and the dense vegetation between the individual houses in the communities play a major role in defining the nature of these houses, since its acts as an existing layer of enclosure. As a result large opening, allows the house to share a close relationship with nature, visually or physically without the necessity to address practical aspects of privacy. Both the houses situated on sparse lands, do not create boundaries or fences to claim territory, addressing the physical surrounding as a collective shared resource. Another similarity is seen in the attempt to make low impact and create the lowest possible foot print on land, by raising the structure from the ground, though the process of making differs largely. In the case of the first house, the approach towards the making is, using locally available, materials, using them in their natural state and suggests involvement and time in the process, where as the other house is built with prefabricated and pre-casted elements along with local materials, that ensure fast construction and allows assembling and dismantling and introduces an aspect of efficiency. Each house, in its manifestation suggests a direct response to their context and is largely a result of the same. Although being in a similar context, each shows contrasting physical manifestations in terms of spatial organization , and form and systems of making. This suggests a result of Individual’s aspirations, understanding of the immediate surroundings and largely the interpretation of the place. Also, time is assumed to play an important role, since both houses are built in different time periods, where the availability of resources and the context of the larger community i.e. Auroville largely differ.


Fig. 4. 38 Site plan of Adventure forest community

4.1. Individual Scattered Settlements 4.1.2. House in Adventure Forest Year : 2000 100 sqm. 2 inhabitants The house sits in a small gated community in Adventure Forest. The community being in the green belt, is sparsely inhabited, having six semi permanent houses, scattered on a vast green land. Informal pathways arterially lead to the individual houses from the common parking. These houses are physically separated by informal pathways, and visually separated by thick vegetation and distances since there are no fences or boundaries inside the community. All the houses in the community are distinctly different from each other, being in the green belt; all have tried being in harmony with nature, and building environmentally friendly buildings.


West elevation

Cross section through the house


3 8 2







Site plan of the house

N 0






1. Gate 2. Semi open entrance porch 3. Living + kitchen + dining 4. Toilet 5. Bedroom 6. Study 7. Parking 8. Waste water treatment plant Fig. 4. 39 Drawings of the house


The house is approached by a gate, marked by two posts and old refurbished doors. It is a simple courtyard house, made with rammed earth and a wooden pitch roof structure covered with country tiles. The gate marks the approach of the house, and there are no fences and boundaries that enclose the area around the house.

Fig. 4. 40 Posts marking the abstract territory

Fig. 4. 41 View of the house from the outside

Rough stones are placed leading to a semi open space. This semi open space extruded outside the square courtyard house defines its entrance. The footprint of the house is confined to its enclosure leaving the surrounding in its natural state, in the absence of any boundary, pavement or plinth. Here the gate defines the abstract extent of the habitation of the house. Fig. 4. 42 Entrance porch

Fig. 4. 43 Diagram showing the abstract territory of the house

All the functions of the house are arranged around the courtyard in a symmetrical organization. The openings on the periphery and the center make the house linear and axial in their response visually and spatially.

Fig. 4. 44 Image of Linear space - from kitchen to living

Fig. 4. 45 Diagram showing physical and visual axis

Fig. 4. 47 Diagram showing climatic response of the house

Fig. 4. 46 The courtyard allows a linear visual axis from study to the outside via the dining area.

Similar to a tropical traditional Indian house, the courtyard is the center of the house. Where the courtyard responds to the humid climate and also is activity centric, where the activities open into the courtyard making it a social center. The courtyard in this house, also serves a climatic purpose enhancing air exchange and improving the indoor conditions. Besides the climatic aspect, the courtyard space creates a micro environment within the house, enabling spaces in the house to be visually and spatially connected with each other as well as to the open.

Fig. 4. 48 Diagram showing the layers of privacy and visual axis


There are large openings on the external wall and smaller openings towards the courtyard. This makes the centric nature of a courtyard house extrovert in nature. The organization of spaces and the opening controls are designed in such a way that it ensures privacy in the private spaces, keeping the rest of the spaces open. The bed rooms are placed on the corner, not aligned with the courtyard and these spaces have small openings, while punctures are provided in the walls to bring in light.

Fig. 4. 49 Diagram showing visibility through the openings

Fig. 4. 50 View from the study

Fig. 4. 51 Diagram showings layers of privacy

Fig. 4. 52 View towards the outside from the courtyard

Here the strict introverted organization suggests, an attempt to address one’s need of security, where the individual merely exists physically within the collective shared environment and creates a micro environment of its own within the itself. At the same time, with the nature of its openings, the strict boundaries between the outside and the inside are diffused, which results in a infinite flow of spaces.

The form of the house can be primarily defined by a single storey cuboidal structure with an open center, where the load bearing walls form the core structure supporting a system of beams and rafters that support the roof. The form of the house suggest that it is an introvert house, like a solid wrapped around the void, where as when the windows are doors are open, the is an house extrovert. Here the formal manifestation of the house, refers to simplicity, where the pitch roof and the courtyard suggests the influence of traditional ways of dealing with a tropical humid climate, though is modified to achieve visual and spatial relationships with the outside as a strong response to the context Fig. 4. 53 Diagram showing primary form


traditional manglore tiles for rooďŹ ng with wooden planks on the underside

traditional wooden support structure with purlins, rafters and battens

reclaimed wooden structural members

small perforations created in rammed earth walls for light reclaimed wooden louvered shutters and frames for openings rammed earth internal walls courtyard to create a micro-environment within the house brick corner walls athangudi tiles for ooring rammed earth buttress walls as structural walls reclaimed wooden articulated columns

Fig. 4. 54 Exploded diagram showing the elements of the structure


The major walls of the house are rammed earth buttress walls and some are made of local burnt bricks. Lime is used instead of cement as the stabilizer in the rammed earth walls, as well as mortar and plaster for the brick walls. Lime stabilized mud is rammed into the trenches for the foundations of the house. Since there is no reinforcement or cement used in the house, the wall are buttressed to create a stable structure. Single pieces of the locally available granite stone slabs are placed on the openings as lintels. Traditional doors and the windows are reused from demolished houses, along some metal jaalis used in the internal openings above the lintel ensuring ventilation and light. Small punctures are made in the walls, in order to light up the internal spaces naturally. This saves materials and makes it cost effective. The roof of the house is made of reused wooden rafters and purlins, topped with locally available clay country tiles and the ceiling is covered with reused wooden boards. All the external walls of the house, are left exposed to its original state and the internal walls are hand plastered with lime to lighten up the interiors. Athangundi tiles also called the chettinad tiles are used for the flooring of the house. These are handmade tiles, which help maintain the floor temperature. Majority of the furniture is inbuilt in the form of platforms finished with oxide finish, which is a traditional flooring technique.

Fig. 4. 55 Exterior facade

The materials used in the construction of the house suggest a conscious attempt to use reused, locally available and eco-friendly materials and are put together by traditional skill based techniques and minimal external energy. Here the making is a result of traditionally acquired knowledge and understanding of the context.

Fig. 4. 56 Image showing the interior finishes

Apart from all this, the house makes other conscious attempts to be low impact and Eco-friendly, in terms of energy and resources. The house does not depend on the electricity grid , the energy consumed is generated from solar photovoltic panels. Also, rain water is harvested and diverted to an underground pump, filtered and taken to the overhead water tank and consumed by the house. Waste water is also treated and used to water the organic farming patch. Fig. 4. 57 Image showing the organic farming patch outside the house.


Similar to the house in Adventure forest, another house located in Petite Ferme, Auroville uses a structural and organizational order to define its relationships to a large extent within a similar context. Here, the structural and organizational order here primarily gets defined by the parallel walls.

Fig. 4. 58 Site plan of Petite ferme community

4.1.2 a. House in Petite ferme community Year : 2001 150 sqm. - Two inhabitants The two storey structure located is a gated community, where all the houses are scattered and the abstract territories of each house is differentiated by informal pathways and vegetation.

Cross section

South elevation












First floor plan


Ground floor plan

Legend : 1. Stepped kund 7. Toilet 2. Studio 8. Backyard 3. Family room 9. Terrace 4.Entrance 10. Bedroom 5. Kitchen + Dining 11. Study 6. Courtyard 12. Toilet

N 0 1 2 3


Fig. 4. 59 Drawings of the house


As mentioned earlier, the spatial and formal manifestation of the house primarily gets defined by the parallel walls. These parallel walls consist of two sets, that divide the linear space into multiple spaces according to the functions they cater to. The spaces on the ground floor include study, living room, kitchen, dining, toilet along with other informal semi open spaces. The bedroom along with a small study is accommodated on the upper floor. The two sets of parallel wall are connected by a continuous corridor that runs through all the spaces along its linear axis. These parallel walls define openings on the north and south faces, which allow a two way visual connection with the outside. In some cases, they also allow physical connection to the outside. Fig. 4. 60 Diagrams showings layers privacy ; physical and visual axis

Most of the openings are defined by full height doors and windows made of perforated metal sheets with wooden frames. These allow constant ventilation, light and visual connection. This nature of the openings suggests that there is a conscious attempt of connecting to the outside, yet the need of privacy is addressed by accommodating the bedroom on the first floor.

Fig. 4. 61 Diagram showing visibility from the openings

These aspects define the layers of privacy vertically, making the ground floor semi public in nature. The open to sky kund and extensions created towards the entrance of the house, further allow for interaction with public as well as with nature.

Fig. 4. 62 Diagram showings vertical layers of privacy and connection to the outside


The spatial organization here, make the house physically and visually open to a large degree allowing to extend out and merge with the context. At the same time need of privacy are addressed vertically. The semi open spaces created outside the house, in the absence of fences and boundaries suggests an attempt to address the community interactions.

guna tube vault

cast in-situ flat slab

opening in the roof

wooden window framed and shutters rammed earth parallel walls

cast in-situ concrete flat slab

precast filler slab panels (1.2m x 1.2m) cast in-situ structural beam

precast rcc beams

precast rcc lintels full height openings with mesh oxide flooring


Fig. 4. 63 Exploded diagram showing system of assembly and assembly


The form of this two storey house can be primarily defined by a vaulted roof resting on a linear structure, internally divided by a set of north-south oriented parallel walls. The Guna tube vault rests on a system of Rammed earth parallel walls, RCC Flat slabs made of Pre-cast panels and RCC pre-cast lintels and beams to tie the structure together. Pre-cast elements were used majorly in order to facilitate replication of the structure. The Pre-cast panels were RCC Flat panels with hollow terracotta pots to reduce the use of concrete. The lintel beams divide the opening in a way that its lower end houses the full height windows and doors and its upper end houses narrow slits with perforated metal jalis for ventilation. The opening defined by the parallel wall structure make the linear structure porous, while large overhangs shade these openings.

Fig. 4. 64 Diagram showing primary form

In-situ platforms form the major furniture of the house. These platforms and the flooring are finished with oxides, a traditional flooring technique. Most of the elements of the house are left exposed in their original state, though some walls are lime plastered to light up the interior spaces.

The Guna tube vault, rammed earth walls, filler slab and oxide floorings are traditional techniques that have been modified with modern technology and elements to create a contemporary house. Most of the materials and elements used in the construction are locally available and close to their natural state. The making of the house has a combination of labor intensive processes as well as assembly of elements . The formal structural principle plays a major role in defining the extrovert nature of the house. The materials and techniques used are a conscious attempt to merge locally available material and traditional building techniques with modern precast systems. This makes the construction faster and efficient and allows replication.

Fig. 4. 65 Image looking towards the kund, showing the physical and visual extension

Fig. 4. 66 Image showing assembly of elements

Fig. 4. 67 Image showing guna tube vault on the first floor

Fig. 4. 68 Interior image of the ground floor


Inferences Both the houses are placed in a similar physical context, though they differ largely in their spatial and formal manifestations. Both use structure and organizational order as a means to respond to climate, context and its inside-outside relationships. The first house uses a courtyard organization, whereas the second house uses a system of parallel walls. The nature of openings of both the houses suggests its visual relationship to the outside. In addition to this, the second house, also caters to physical relationships, where spaces physically extend towards the outside. These relationships are largely affected by the proximities and the dense vegetation between the individual houses in the communities since its acts as an existing layer of enclosure. Both the houses do not claiming any physical territory apart from the existing layer of natural enclosure. The footprint of the first house is confined to its enclosure and creates a micro-environment within the house, whereas the second house extends outside to cater to collective interactions. Another similarity is seen in the conscious use of local materials and traditional techniques, but differ largely in their making since the first one uses a traditional approach using purely skill based techniques to respond to the context, where as the second uses a modern approach by assembling the local materials and traditional methods along with pre-casted elements. In many ways these houses show an additional sense of permanence, due to choice of systems and materials.



Fig. 4. 69 Site plan locating Swayam Community

4.2. High density low rise community 4.2.1 Swayam community Year : 2001-08 Approximately 100 sq m - Two inhabitants Swayam is a high density, low-rise, gated residential community in the residential zone. It is an architect proposed project aiming to create a small mixed-use residential community with diverse groups of people, living and working together in a sustainable and ecologically sound environment. It consists of a cluster of units knit together to respond to the urban context of the master plan. It consists of a diverse variety of houses from single, free standing and attached houses that include ground floor working and living spaces with a space above for sleeping to Flats for singles, couples and small families. The houses were designed to be 45 - 60 square meters each, though larger houses were made for people who opted to live together opting for common and shared facilities. The decision of a mixed-use community along with work and living on the ground floor was to ensure that the community is occupied at all times of the day and to ensure community interactions. The use of similar constructional materials and elements across the different varieties of houses gives the community a coherent architectural language. A palette of materials and elements along with a model unit was proposed, where the users according to their requirement made changes and execution was done in close contact with a team of builders . This is an important aspect of this collective model, where the relationship between client, designer and builder gets introduced.





4 2

12 13 6

11 7





Fig. 4. 70 Site plan of the community Legend : 1. Two wheeler parking 2. Main Gate 3. Residential unit - G+1 - Four single Occupancy 4. Two double occupancy units sharing common wall. G+1 5. Single unit - G+1 - Single / couple 6. Office - G+1

0 5 10 15


7. Attached unit - G+1 - Single/couple 8. Large unit with 4 bedrooms + shared facilities 9. Flats - G+2 - 6 flats for single/small family with work units 10. Residence and work unit - G+1 11. Parking, common toilet and waste segregation 12. Gate 13. Community Pavilion (Tea Pavilion)

long section

Section through both units








First floor plan 1



Ground floor plan


Legend: 1. Semi open entrance 2. Living space 3. Work space 4. Bedroom 5. Terrace

N 0 5 10 15


Fig. 4. 71 Drawings of the house 4 marked in Fig. 4.70


Fig. 4. 72 Diagrams showing orientations of the individuals houses in the community 0 5 10 15

Fig. 4. 73 Diagram showings orientation of the two units on ground floor


The siting of each house on the site is done at different orientations with different accesses since the houses are located around existing trees and so that all the houses have different physical and visual axes. This ensures privacy in the close proximities. The Approach to these houses is formed by rammed mud pathways. These pathways connect all the houses in the community together as well as demarcate them from each other. Along with the pathways, the plantation done by the inhabitants, play a major role in demarcating the houses from each other since it creates a micro-environment around each building. The micro environment created by the inhabitants adds another layer of privacy. To get an overall idea of the community one particular house i.e. house 4 (Fig. 4.70 )will be studied.

Fig. 4. 74 Diagram showings orientation of the two units on first floor

Fig. 4. 75 Diagram showings vertical layers of privacy and visual axis of both units

In the case of this house, two units share a common wall, and its territory is marked by the peripheral mud pathway and the vegetation around. Both the units seem to be consciously mirrored to create opposite accesses, both visual and physical. The space on the ground floor is used as living and work spaces; these functions are also placed in opposite directions since each of them is occupied at different times of the day and demands different controls. As mentioned earlier the private spaces i.e. the bedrooms, are on the upper floor along with an open terrace. These spaces are also placed in opposite orientations to ensure privacy.


In this particular unit, the nature of openings and its position also is planned in a way that visual axes of both the house do not coincide with each other, ensuring visual privacy. The openings here are oriented in the East west axis, where in some units of the community, it is on the north south axis. This suggests that in this collective model, the orientations the building and the nature of opening are largely affected by the close proximities.

Fig. 4. 76 Diagram showing visibility through the openings

Fig. 4. 77 Image of the Tea Pavilion

Fig. 4. 78 Diagram showing the different nature of spaces in the community

Legend :

Public spaces Semi public spaces Private spaces Access to other community

Complementing the living spaces are the informal and formal spaces designed and added by the residents as an approach to collective living environments. The community has a Japanese style tea pavilion as a planned collective space in the center of the community. Apart from that the residents have created interactive spaces outside their houses in the form of garden and outdoor sitting spaces. Most of these spaces are created at approaches to the houses, towards the center of the community. Some houses have also created a private seating and garden in their backyards, though no formal fences enclose these area. Fig. 4. 79 Diagram showing domains at a community scale


Fig. 4. 80 A japanese garden created at the entrance of a house.

Fig. 4. 82 Entrance foyer of house 4

Fig. 4. 81 Private backyards defined by extended walls and pergola.

In this particular unit, an entrance foyer, defined by a pergola, forms the threshold to this house, which contributes in increasing community interactions as well as adds a layer of privacy to the living room. Apart from this, the space between the units also becomes a space for interaction between the two houses. The nature of spaces of this collective model is largely affected due close proximities and the need to ensure privacy for the occupant. This model addresses these issues by the orientations of the buildings and nature of openings. Also, there is a strong attempt towards increasing community interactions by creating spaces outside one’s enclosure, by consciously defining public activity and spaces and also gives a possibility for individuals to create their private spaces in nature.

Fig. 4. 83 Diagram showing the domains of the two units

Here, the individual is identified by the collective, since it plays a major role in shaping it.


Fig. 4. 84 Exterior view of the house

There is a formal coherence amongst all the buildings in the community, since a common set of building systems and elements is used across all the buildings. A system of elements is created for each formal system, like the walls are made of stabilized rammed earth walls and achikal brick (local bricks available in Tamil Nadu), hollow block jack arch and terracotta filler slab are incorporated in the slabs, brick and guna tube (Terracotta tubes) vaults are used as roofing system, alcoves are created for light as well as sitting. Here the Guna tube, clay pot, hollow clay brick and achikal brick are elements and the vault, filler slab, jack-arch and wall respectively define the system, whereas Earth is the material that when rammed defines the walling system. These systems are constant in all the buildings across the community, though used together in different permutations and combinations, generating the form of each building. Every system gets defined by its element. Each of the elements has its own properties and limitations that define the nature of each system and further its assembly defines the nature of the form. The choice of elements that are used here, suggest a conscious attempt of using locally available elements made of climatically appropriate and Eco-friendly materials. These will be further discussed later. The systems are designed within the limitation of these elements while simultaneously addressing the climate, the functional requirement and also aesthetics. In the case of this particular house, the form can be primarily defined by a linear structure divided by a service bay, rectangular extrusions as alcoves, and roofed by a vault. The structure follows a vertically layered system, where cast in-situ concrete beams structurally connects all the other systems.

Fig. 4. 85 Diagram showing Primary form of the two units


The linearity allows efficient division of the space and ensures two sided openings for each space. The extrusions from the linear enclosure in the form of an alcove add as a spatial element, accommodating functions as well indirectly bringing in light without creating a separate structure. The vault is a response to the climate, since it provides insulation and acts as a reflecting surface. The vault and jack arch slab , act as spanning systems and at the same time reduce the need of reinforcement. These systems make use of non structural locally available elements to act as structural systems. The openings in the house make each space within the formally linear structure respond to the outside on the perpendicular axis.

metal framed glass windows cast in-situ rcc flat slab

MS grills within metal frames and glass shutters as windows rammed earth walls with mud plaster finishing

jack arch flooring

rcc precast lintels

rcc cast in-situ beams openings above lintel level

rcc cast in-situ staircase

built-in furniture wiht oxide finish

alcove rammed earth structural walls precast rcc pergola at the entrance

Fig. 4. 86 Exploded diagram showing the system of assembly and the elements of the unit


Another addition to the form is the semi open space, defined by the pergolas made of pre-cast concrete members. This acts as a threshold and an interactive element for the house. The formal manifestations here in this collective model is a resultant of assembly of systems. The choice of elements and its assembly attempts to create easy and efficient solutions for repetition, since they are devised as kit of parts. This system of kit of parts, create equal living environment for all the inhabitants at the same time, allows variations for cater to varied individual requirements and lifestyles.

Fig. 4. 87 Finishing of Achikal brick wall

As mentioned earlier, the systems of formal manifestations are a result of the nature of elements and its assembly. The Guna tube vault, is a catenary structure made of a series of arches using an element called ‘guna tube’, which is a locally available tapering conical burnt clay pipe. These elements come together by socketing into one another and get stacked in a curved form along the centering formwork. A series of such arches make a barrel vault, without the use of any reinforcement. The top of this roof is finished with China mosaic and the bottom remains exposed. The jack arch slab, trapezoidal pre-cast reinforced concrete beams are used at intervals between which hollow terracotta blocks form small elongated multiple vaults. Above them concrete is filled providing a level surface for finished flooring. The filler slab is a traditional way of making a slab. Inverted hemispheres of terra-cotta pots are pre-cast and made to rest over reinforced concrete beams before the concreting process. This method reduces the concrete used in the slab, enhances internal thermal conditions and also acts an aesthetic element. Rammed earth is also a traditional technique used in which, special metal and ply form-work are created, within which a mixture of earth and cement is rammed with hand. The floor is finished with oxide flooring, which is a traditional flooring technique and most other formal systems are left exposed. Certain perforations are made in the brick walls, using Guna tubes or waste glasses and is mud plastered.

Fig. 4. 88 Jack Arch construction Fig. 4. 89 Guna tube vault construction

Fig. 4. 90 Filler slab construction

The choice of the materials and formal manifestations of elements suggest that it consciously attempts to use a devised system of traditional techniques and local materials modified with modern elements to cater to contemporary lifestyles. Another important aspect is that all the techniques are energy efficient and largely skill based. Fig. 4. 91 Rammed earth wall construction


Swayam, as a high density collective model has a coherent built environment, since it was proposed with predefined intentions and principles towards the collective, along with predefined building elements and materials. Similarly, Yantra, a small gated residential community located in the industrial zone, was proposed with predefined intentions and principles , which lead to its coherent built environment.

Fig. 4. 92 Site plan locating Yantra community




4.2.1 a. Yantra Year : 1996 Approximately 10 sqm - Two inhabitants

3 7

4 5

Fig. 4. 93 Site plan


1. Main gate of community 2. Parking 3. Residence 4. Overhead tank 5. Residence + workshop

The community was proposed as a combination of individual and row houses with small office units, with a common language of architectural elements, materials and landscape. The common elements used across the community are brick and CEB vaults and domes, large porous openings, deep overhangs, pre-cast concrete lintels and beams.



N 0





6. Residence + physiotherapy centre 7. Waste water treatment plant 8. Attached residence + workshop 9. Gate

The houses in the community are separated and demarcated by plantations and landscape elements like vertical stone members forming walls. Informal pathways leading from the common parking form the approaches of the individual houses and connect them, though other small gates on the periphery of the gated community make the approach to the houses decentralized.


All the houses in the community are oriented on the north south axis as a climatic response. Most of the houses are approached on the north side and on the south side, the individual houses have made their private backyards with gardens and water bodies, visually enclosed by vegetations and natural elements. All the houses have neutral activities towards the approach, and the private spaces open towards the backyards. This allows, large openings on both the sides for ventilation and visual connection and at the same time ensures privacy.

Fig. 4. 95 Vertical granite marking the territorial boundaries of the individual house Fig. 4. 94 Diagram showing domains at a community scale

Section cutting the physiotherapy unit and semi open space

To get an overall idea of the community one particular house i.e. house 6 (Fig. 4.93 )will be looked at. This house is a residential cum physiotherapy unit. The house has two approaches, one from the pathway of the community leading from the main parking area and an other from a small private gate connecting to the main road.

Fig. 4. 96 Drawings of house 6

Legend: 1. Gate 2. Semi paved pathway 3. Entrance 4. Semi open space 5. Physiotherapy unit 6. Kitchen 7. Storage 8. Bedroom 9. Toilet 10.Backyard





5 6

7 3


2 Ground floor plan 0 1 2 3


N 5m

The house is oriented in the north south axis, with large full height openings on both the sides. Neutral activities like the storage, kitchen and the dining are located on the front side of the house like the other buildings of the community where as the private activities are located towards the backyards ensuring privacy. The physiotherapy center is defined by small openings on all three side towards the outside, ensuring ventilations as well as privacy for the function. The rest of the house is fairly open and freely accessible. Hierarchy of spaces has been designed to address privacy. Fig. 4. 97 Diagram showing layers privacy; physical and visual axis

Fig. 4. 98 Diagram showings layers of privacy and visual axis

At a community level, the individuals houses are identified by loose organization and the micro environments created by landscape elements. Thus, this collective model uses a decentralized approach to address the need of privacy and to identify an individual merely in a physically collective environment, ensuring harmonious living environment for each individual without affected by the collective.

Fig. 4. 99 Diagram showing physical and visual extensions


As mentioned earlier, all the houses in the community have a coherent built environment due to predefined elements and materials. In this particular house, the exposed brick walls support a flat slab, which is supported by a system of pre-cast beams and lintels. A brick minke dome, finished on top with china mosaic, rests on an octagonal set of walls that define the physiotherapy center. The north and south sides of the house have full height openings, which make the house porous in this orientation. Fig. 4. 100 External view of the house

Fig. 4. 101 Internal view of brick Minke dome

A brick dome was constructed as an experimental structurally optimized dome, where no reinforcement was used and the use of concrete was minimized. The flat slab was achieved by casting a thin slab of concrete on stone, that rested on pre-cast concrete beams. This method of casting a flat slab reduces the use of reinforcement and concrete and is faster and cheaper to construct. Precast concrete beams and lintels is used for quick and economical construction and the unfinished granite stone is used as lintels for small openings. Bio-concrete is used for all the elements of the construction, using limestone as an aggregate, available locally and broken by hand on site, instead of granite chips and cement is also replaced by using lime as mortar. The openings are designed with metal grills and mosquito mesh, to ensure constant ventilation and visual connection. The floors of the house are finished with natural locally available stone and all the building materials of the house were left exposed in their natural state. The form and materials plays a major role in unifying the individual houses in this collective model by giving it one architectural language. The choice of vaults and domes along with other pre-cast elements as a system and the materials used suggests the conscious effort of using locally available and environmentally friendly materials and traditional skill intensive techniques, with a balanced amount mechanized or industrialized elements. The mechanized elements ensure, fast and efficient construction. The assembly of these systems and processes, create efficient solutions for repetition at the same time making it environment friendly living environments. This creates equal living environment for all the inhabitants at the same time, allows variations for cater to varied individual requirements.

Fig. 4. 102 View of the semi open space, showing pre-cast spanning elements and granite lintels


cast in-situ rcc parapet beam china mosaic finish on a lyer of brick-bat on a tarfelt sheet resting on stone slabs brick dome with china mosaic rcc flat slab

precast rcc beams

cast in-situ rcc beams where required

metal grill and frame openings with mosquito net above lintel granite slab lintels

kota stone flooring

rcc precast lintels exposed brick masonry parallel walls

full height metal grilled openings with mosquito net

Fig. 4. 103 Exploded diagram showing the system of assembly and the elements of the unit


Inferences Swayam and Yantra, each being an example of collective model, show a very different approach towards community living and identifying an individual in the collective. In Yantra the houses are decentralized and knit in a loose manner, connected with green spaces, ensuring personalized living environments for individuals in harmony with nature physically and visually without getting affected by collective. Swayam on the other hand is densely knit to respond to the urban context. By its dense fabric and collective spaces, Swayam attempts to create community interactions, where as in the case of Yantra community relationships are confined to shared facilities. It can be said that in the first model the collective identifies the individual and separates each individual by means of various thresholds, where as in the second model, the collective is a result of the organization of the individuals and their micro environments. Both the models create a coherence built environment with predefined forms and materials in order to experiment with environmentally friendly and traditional techniques using locally available material and skills with a balanced amount of mechanized elements. The materials are techniques are used as devised systems, in order to ensure efficient repetition. These model introduce an element of efficiency and repetition to cater to the needs of the community at large. In Both cases the users, are made active participants in the design of their own houses which brought variations in the formal manifestations within a predefined palette. This not only caters to individual needs and aspirations, but also maintains equal living without consideration of economies and cultures to create harmonious collective environments.


Fig. 4. 104 Site plan locating Luminosity

4.3 High density High rise 4.3.1 Luminosity Year : 2000 Approximately 70 sqm per person Luminosity is a 3-storey apartment building in the densely proposed residential zone. It is an architect proposed project as an experimental model towards a new living and working experiment. It was envisaged as “The temple of living and working in, built by the intention for a simple, functional, aesthetic and minimal spaces voluntarily chosen by the inhabitants“. (Nightingale, 2015) It houses 12 small apartments for single, couple or small families on the upper floors and 9 offices along with a community kitchen on the ground floor. The 3 storey building is a white cuboidal building which sits in contrast to the communities around, which are build in earth and surrounded by trees. The front facade is clearly seen as a white rectangle with long vertical louvers and small circular punctures in parts of the facade. ]The building sits between two other communities; namely Swayam, a high density low rise gated community to its right and Creativity, one of the earliest apartment buildings in Auroville to its left and On the southern side is the green corridor. The building shares fences with its neighboring gated community, Swayam. The road leading to these two communities form the main access to the building, and other informal pathways lead to the building from the parking. Thus the access to the building has minimal physical control making it freely accessible to the public.



3 2 3 4 Legend:


5 7 Fig. 4. 105 Site plan of Luminosity

N 0


10 15

1. Parking 2. Pedestrian Gate 3. Water body 4.offices on ground floor 5. Rain water harvesting pit 6. Waste water treatment plant 7. Green corridor


The building is approached by mud pathways leading to three platforms that form the approach to the building. The pathways are surrounded by designed landscape elements i.e. plantation elements and ponds. Pebble laid yards with plantations are placed adjacent to the platforms. The colonnade provides for a transition space between the yard and the office spaces. At the south side, the backyard has a percolation pit filled with granite chips and a water retention tank. The north facade of the building is equipped with adjustable louvers. The louvers ensure protection from heavy monsoon rains as well as facilitate wind through the building, also accommodating the green balconies with extensive vegetation that helps in protection from the sun on the south side.

Fig. 4. 106 North facade of the building

Fig. 4. 107 South facade of the building


Typical cross section

Long Section

Terrace plan

Second floor plan

First floor plan

Ground floor plan Fig. 4. 108 Drawings of Luminosity

N 0 1 2 3 5m


The ground floor is dedicated to offices and studios for the inhabitants and other Aurovillians while the residential area is raised off the ground. This was done to avoid the need for marking territories by building fences and private yards by the inhabitants around the garden and public spaces. The ground floor being fully accessible to the public, the residences are provided on the upper floors to ensure privacy. Office spaces would bring more activity to the area, making it a public space and inhabited at all times of the day. This was done to promote the ideals of Auroville that it belongs to “Nobody in Particular “. In most other communities the ground floor houses the common community spaces, which then remain unoccupied during the day. In an attempt to avoid this here, all the collective spaces have instead been moved to the rooftop. Thus this apartment building accommodates vertical layers of activities, i.e. the ground floor is public in nature, both the first and second floor are completely private, and the terrace being the community space is semi-private, used by the inhabitants and their guests. These layers are connected by the three stairwells, that divide the building block. The studio spaces on the ground floor measure 20 m2 each, with one larger space of 40m2, and one such space houses the common kitchenette and toilets. The Southern edge of the offices have sliding doors, with a grill and mesh allowing for the whole wall to be opened up, while the North side only has a 1.2 m wide floor to ceiling door as an opening, which when kept open allows cross ventilation. The users were given the choice of inserting platforms within their studio spaces or keeping it all one level. A modular language is seen to be followed here, where the main building, or shell, remains intact and functional modular units have been inserted as per individual requirements, allowing for flexibility within the uniform skeleton.

Fig. 4. 109 Diagram showing domains on the ground floor

Fig. 4. 110 Diagram showing vertical layers of privacy and visual axis

Fig. 4. 111 Ground floor plan showing the collective territory marker

The apartments on the upper floors are approached by the stairwell. These stairwells are cordoned by grills and can be accessed only by the residents. Three such stairwells divide the building block. Each stairwell caters to only 4 apartments; 2 on each floor and the covered terrace. The stairwells are kept spacious i.e. 2.5 m wide with 1.2 m on each side, ensuring privacy and preventing sound control amongst the apartments. Every landing faces a wall punctured by holes made from PVC tubes permeating light. Fig. 4. 112 Upper floor plan showing the individual territory marker


There are two apartments on each landing, with a storage space before the entrance of each. A few of the apartments have cordoned off this area with grills for security , leaving adequate space to access the stairwell. This in a way marks the territory of the individual apartments, and the grill on the ground floor marks the collective territory of the residents .

Fig. 4. 113 Image of the terrace

Fig. 4. 114 Demarcated individual territory

The large covered terraces make up the community space in Luminosity and is used between inhabitants and their guests. The provision of community facilities like washing, dining and reading areas was to promote interaction between the residents. Each terrace has green areas and extensive plantation. According to the architect the concept of making luminosity a model for community living is materialized through these spaces. The approach towards the collective at the site level attempts to consolidated minimal living spaces by creating more public spaces rather than individual spaces. Privacy also has been a major determinant for the nature and hierarchy of spaces in the collective model. Demarcated layers of spaces are identified i.e. public, semi-private and private. Thus here, the individual though being in a collective consolidated environment is identified in isolation.

Fig. 4. 115 Balcony towards the south

Fig. 4. 116 Corridor towards the north

Fig. 4. 117 Diagram showing visibility on both sides

Fig. 4. 118 Enclosed space within the house

Each apartment is 70 sqm, within which it accommodates a living space, kitchenette, bedroom spaces, toilet and a balcony with planter boxes. Each apartment opens on two sides, the northern side is defined by metal adjustable louvers and the southern side is defined by a semi open balcony. The louvers installed on the northern facade are made adjustable to different configurations. When fully open, the apartment becomes visually open to the outside. The balconies on the southern facade are equipped with extensive green vegetation that helps bring down the temperature. The larger overhang provide shade and allows extension for recreational activities. The enclosed space is further defined by sliding doors on each side, creating a foyer at the entrance. This serves as a transition space for the visitors. The space also acts as an extension to the living area within, divided with the use of full length sliding doors. They allow the extension of space when needed and also help in enclosing the inner area when it is required to be protected from the outside harsh climate and strong winds.


All of this remaining constant, three layout options are given to the inhabitants for their choice of living within this rectilinear space of 70sqm.

A - Open space This is the most open layout, and makes the most use of North south ventilation and visual axis. 1/3rd of the space is provided for all the utilities, which include the kitchenette on one side and bathroom on the other side. The remaining space acts as living/ bedroom space.

B - Living-dining kitchen (22.7 m2) + Bedroom (14.4 m2) This layout offers a defined bedroom, with a partition wall along the East/ West axis which acts as a storage and also allows leaving parts of it open or close.

Fig. 4. 119 Layout options

Fig. 4. 120 Visual axis of all the apartments

The choices of the layouts offer different visual axes and ventilations where the option A allows maximum visual connection to the outside and in the rest visual connection is broken due to the presence of the partition. A constant in all the apartments is the clear ceiling space, all the partition elements are .50m from the ceiling. This allows uninterrupted ventilation at the top and allows the light to reach to all the spaces and also makes the house look more spacious.


C - Living-dining kitchen (22. 2m2) + 2 Bedroom (7.4m2) This layout accommodates 2 bedroom along with the living space within the same space. The storage partition separates the spaces.

Fig. 4. 121 Diagrams showing layers of privacy

The choice of layouts also affects the degree of privacy. The layout allows for being completely open visually and physically, at the same time accommodating defined private spaces with the partitions. In many ways Luminosity can be referred to Golconde, where the spaces are simple and functional as well as climatically responsive due to the treatment of the layers and fenestrations. Similar to Golconde, luminosity also caters minimal and simple living, allowing the inhabitant to have personal spaces within the collective living as well as collective spaces for community interaction.

The three storey cuboidal building has been divided by vertical stairwells and the roof seems to be floating on these vertical stairwells. The building adopts a modular system, where the skeleton and enclosure remain constant allowing variation inside each unit. It is a frame structure, where the units are placed as compartments in a linear manner so that each unit is oriented according to the climate to make the most of the natural breeze i.e. north south axis. This creates a two way visual axis and ensures privacy and sound control. It aim at creating neutral consolidated spaces. Fig. 4. 122 Diagram showing primary form

Fig. 4. 123 Internal view of apartment type A

The internal spaces also look like simple cuboids since the rectilinear spaces are free from structure. The columns are concealed in the cavity walls, and the beams are also concealed in the ceiling. All the apartments are separated from each other by east west oriented cavity walls i.e. four parallel walls. The cavity walls are used for services and dehumidification system, at the same time it avoids sound transmission between the apartments on the same floor. A similar approach has been taken in the floors, where the inverted beams above the slabs are also filled with ricehusk ash to help deaden sound-transmission vertically between apartments.


metal corrugated sheet to cover the terrace public spaces

steel columns and support structure planters at the back end of the terrace perforated wall

cast in-situ rcc lintels

y ash bricks for cavity walls as inďŹ ll

internal walls up to lintel level stairwells connecting all levels as well as dividing each block rainwater water harvesting pit-towards the back of the building rcc cast in-situ structural columns forming the frame structure landscape elements at the entrance of the building full height aluminum framed sliding glass doors full height wooden louvers as a screen

Fig. 4. 124 Exploded diagram showing the system of assembly and the elements of the building


Fig. 4. 125 Internal view showing furniture and finishes of apartment Type A

The building is a regular concrete frame structure where fly ash and fired bricks are used as cavity walls and in-situ concrete is used for slabs. A standardized size of metal louvers and sliding glass doors are used for the openings across all the apartments. The apartments have Cudappah flooring and the platforms are finished with grey cement oxide. The walls and ceilings are all plastered and painted white. The users had an option of choosing between various finishes for the storage units, such as glass, paint, or veneer for the shutters. Channels have been provided in the ceiling as provision for curtains along side the sliding glass doors. The choice of these materials and structure suggest an attempt to create standardized neutral houses, that are climate responsive and low maintenance. The method of construction used is technology centric that allowed fast and efficient construction. The formal manifestation and the making here plays a more functional role to cater to the structural requirement for the vertical consolidated living model and pays an extra emphasis on privacy Apart from the experiments in living spaces and building systems, it also attempts to experiment with various technologies. Each apartment has a meter hooked up at the rainwater harvesting system, that provides 100 liters of fresh water per day all around the year. A natural reed-bed water purifying system acts as a surface level aquifer, treats the grey water and is used for flushing toilets and watering the plants. The planter boxes provided in the southern facade are provided with drip irrigation system that uses the recycled water.

Fig. 4. 126 The natural reed bed water purifying system

Although the building has been aligned to take advantage of the natural breeze, dehumidification systems have been installed in the cavity walls. This system cools and dehumidifies the air.


Luminosity as a collective model, has made several efforts in creating community interactions as well as defining the individual in the collective by various layers and domains. Citadines is another collective model which addresses community interactions and defines the individual within a collective with a different approach.

Fig. 4. 127 Site plan locating Citadines

4.3.1 a. Citadines Year : 2008 Approximately 35 sq m to 100 sq m Per person Citadines is the first high rise project within the inner city area. It is situated between two green parks and is located in the Habitat Area. It consists of two apartment block with different apartments for singles, couples and families. Citadines is the first of many blocks that are yet to come. When completed, it is to consist of 108 apartments for singles, couples and families. For now two blocks are completed. The idea was to provide long-term Aurovilians or people who had been waiting for a long time for a house, with an equipped house, where one could simply walk-in and occupy.

Cross section of a block

“An experiment in conscious social living, pioneering what will become a high-density urban settlement within Auroville.� (Auroville today, 2009). The Entire Ground Floor of both G+3 blocks has been allocated for housing the common facilities like the community kitchen and dining, laundry and drying facility, exhibition space, reception office and seminar room. Thus this floor is freely accessible by the public. The next three floors accommodate the private residences , and a semi covered terrace accommodates the collective activities.


Ground floor plan 0


N 10



Fig. 4. 128 Diagram showing vertical layers of privacy and visual axis

Fig. 4. 129 Common passage in first floor plan of block 1

Fig. 4. 131 Image of the common passage on third floor of block 2

Thus vertical layers of privacy and domains are seen. The upper floors are approached by a common stairwell that connects all the apartments together. This stairwell leads to a common passage, that branches out to the entrances of each apartment forming cut outs in the remaining area. These cut outs help in multi-level interaction and stack ventilation. The common passages houses seatings, green areas and planters which induce community interaction at each floor.

Fig. 4. 130 Common passage in first floor plan block 2

Fig. 4. 132 Common passage of block 1

Fig. 4. 133 Community spaces created along the passage

In Citandines the design principle followed has been to minimize private space (the allocation is 35 - 45 sq m per person) and maximise common or shared space. For example, the assumption is to the allocate 35 - 45 sq m per person, consequently, while the apartments range in size from 35 sq m to 100 sq m, an additional 20 sq m within the building is collective space. This includes the whole of the ground floor which does not belong to the residents but is open to all. As mentioned earlier, this collective model offers different types of apartments catering to different needs. There are three types of apartments, fully furnished, in order to ensure standardization and no modification was allowed to be easily adaptable by anybody.


The three types of apartments are as follows:

Type I - 38.5 sqm. Bedroom cum living room + Balcony +kitchen+balcony

Type II - 80 sqm. 2 Bedrooms + living dining kitchen+toilet +covered balcony+ terrace

Type III - 111.5 sqm. 2 large bedrooms + living dining kitchen + 2 covered balconies + terrace 0 1 2 3

Fig. 4. 134 Diagram showing open and semi open spaces and the openings

Each of these apartments, also have open and semi open spaces on the peripheral sides in the form of open terraces and covered balconies, making all the private spaces visually open to the outside , constantly ventilated and also provide shade to the interior spaces. Towards the common passage, the openings are given above the lintel for stack ventilation and the walls below ensure visual privacy within the collective.

The collective model attempts to minimize private spaces and maximize community spaces in the form of common passages, and community facilities on the ground floor. Another conscious attempt is seen in the way in which the apartment shares a relationship with the outside. An individual’s identity is confined to the apartment, where as outside the apartment, community interactions take place at various levels which induces the collective identity.

Fig. 4. 135 External view of block 2

Fig. 4. 136 Internal view of apartment type I



The form of the building can be defined by three 4-storey vertical units tied together by common passages and a stairwell at each level. The separation of these three units allows air circulation. The building is a concrete frame structure with infill, and cantilevered balconies. Aerocon blocks are used as infill as well as cavity walls for thermal efficiency and noise reduction. Acoustic panels are also used in the ceiling for vertical noise reduction. All the surfaces of the building are plastered and finished with paint.

Fig. 4. 137 Diagram showing primary form of the building

The choice of these materials and structure suggests an attempt at creating standardized neutral houses , that are climate responsive, maintenance free and ensure efficient and fast construction. The formal manifestation apart from providing a functional solution, plays a major role in identifying the individual and collective relationships.


Inference Both Luminosity and Citadines have tried varied approaches towards collective living and have tried defining the individuals within a collective. Both the collective models create vertical layers of privacy in order to facilitate collective interactions at the same time identify the individuals. In case of luminosity, office spaces are accommodated to invite public interactions where as terraces become the community space. In case of Citadines, the community spaces are on the ground floor along with an exhibition center in order to create public interactions and the terrace caters to private community activities. The stairwell in Citadines leads to a passage that generate vertical community interactions as well as on the same floor. Where as in Luminosity, the each stair well only leads to four apartments to ensure privacy and dedicated spaces are provided for community interaction. Thus it suggests that in Luminosity the community interactions are voluntary, where as in Citadines they are induced at all levels. Both the models, suggest an attempt towards creating minimal private spaces i.e. the individual residential spaces, which are standardized and neutral. In luminosity equal spaces are provided to all apartments, which allow for variations in layout by making divisions in the same space, whereas in case of Citadines, apartments of different sizes are provided for different functions. Both the models are designed to be climate responsive and attempt to open visually to the outside. Due to its strict organization, every apartment in Luminosity is open to two sides where is in case of Citadines, the openings are provided on the peripheral side, to maintain privacy from the common passage. The materials and technology used in both the collective models suggest that there is an attempt to use good quality and low maintenance materials that are easy to handle and help in quick construction. The formal manifestation and the making here plays a more functional role to cater to the structural requirement for the vertical consolidated living model.


5. Summing up 5.1 Passing the thread

Having studied the identified cases and examples, an evident change is noticed in the spatial and formal manifestation of built form in Auroville. With no predetermined rules, the nature of the form has been continuously redefined with change in living patterns with the physical context, growing numbers, familiarity with land, infrastructure and practical issues. Thus the architecture of Auroville cannot be reduced to words or typologies. As mentioned earlier the purpose of the place is ‘human unity in diversity’. The major aspect around which all the circles of life have been redefined is identifying the “individual within the collective”. As seen in the case studies, from the individual scattered housing to highdensity living and further high-density apartments, each identifies an individual differently within the collective. The impact of this has been seen in the spatial and formal manifestation of the built. “In the beginning there were no rules or imposed order, just a blank, like the landscape. The city would either unify organically or shatter. Auroville had begun with a regime, without a way. No way and every way.” (Lithman,1980)

Early Manifestations

In the absence of any reference or predefined order of architectural planning or habitation, the earliest dwellings grew independently within the undefined collective. Aspiration was the first experiment towards community living where individual identity was blurred within the collective. This was possible by the use of standardized neutral, minimal spaces for individuals where the built was only a functional enclosure that suggested its temporal ownership. To this communal experience, Auromodele introduced an element of individualism by adding layers of permanence, privacy and durability. Auromodele with its sculptural forms introduced a high degree of self-expression and experimentation, which might have been one of the factors that instigated the spirit of exploration of materials and experimentation in the built forms to follow. One could also say that the charter might have played a role in beginning this movement towards experimentation since it hints towards material research and emphasizes discoveries towards future realizations.

Individual Scattered settlements

The role of the individual in the collective and vice versa has been constantly evolving and this has been studied in the three broad categories mentioned in this document. In individual dwellings, as observed, context played a very important role towards defining the nature of the relationship within the collective. This context unlike the earlier settlement, which was on a barren land, was now a strong natural and densely vegetated surrounding. Here, these dwellings were largely influenced by an individual’s understanding of the immediate context, since there was a limited number of practical issues and with infinite number of choices of decision making due to undefined guidelines varied manifestations are seen.


These varied manifestations, hint towards the role of the individual’s aspirations, understanding of the immediate surrounding and their interpretation of the collective ideal, which was manifested through self-designed dwellings. It is seen across all the individual dwellings under study, that there is a conscious effort to keep the built as open to the surroundings as possible where the physical surroundings forms the primary layer of enclosure and the built forms the secondary. Variations in the degree as well as in the method of achieving this openness are seen due to the aspirations of each individual. In the first house (4.1.1) we see that through the nature of openings and the organization of spaces, nature is made an integral part of the house where the boundaries between the inside and the outside are blurred. In the second house(4.1.1 a) the consolidated house exists within nature where the enclosed envelop through its porous openings blurs the boundaries between the inside and outside. The courtyard organization of the third house (4.1.2) suggests a strong traditional influence along with the individual’s notion of security taking precedence while creating a micro environment of its own within the built. Yet the nature of openings diffuses this strict spatial organization as a response to the strong natural context. The fourth house(4.1.2 a.), with its strong spatial order physically as well as visually opens up to its surroundings, almost as if it were coexisting with its surroundings. As studied, the existence of dense vegetation almost negated the imperative need for individual privacy within the built. Yet, a few attempts to a small extent were made to address this need for privacy to a small extent by means of relocating private functions to the upper floor. The nature of openness was maintained at both levels in these cases. The physical claim of land of each of these individual houses is confined to their footprint in the absence of any intentional physical boundaries. However as seen, certain territorial markers suggest an abstract habitation. These individuals along with their abstract habitation together create the collective. The collective here is merely tied together by means of the shared physical environment, where the individuals are independent. In many ways, the formal manifestation of the first two houses refers to a temporal nature and attempt to co-exist with the nature without hindering its natural processes, by the choice of material, system of assembly, process of making and gesture of raising the house above the ground. The formal manifestations of the two houses suggest an additional sense of permanence, by the choice of materials and the construction processes. Both the houses make use of locally available materials and vernacular techniques, where one chose a traditional method of


assembly , whereas the other takes up a more modern approach by combining more modern approach by combining locally available materials with a few pre-casted elements. The variations seen here are a result of individual’s understanding of material, aspirations for an enclosure and interpretation of the place at large. Due to the temporary nature and intention of the structure, its minimal impact stayed confined to the green belt and did not have larger implications on the abstract Master Plan at the early stage, while more permanent structures for housing were slowly being constructed. This process of transformation introduced an abstract sense of ownership, though not in reality. One could question, the role these loosely packed communities have played in the larger collective or rather urban context of Auroville. The answer is found in their, its sensitivity towards nature and making along with and experimentations with materials and processes towards balanced living environments all of which might have played a role in influencing the later built.

High density low rise

With the change in pace of development and density, there is seen a substantial change in the initial intentions of occupancy in the form of a high-density collective model. The individual again gets redefined in a newly defined collective. These collective models introduce a concept of a designer as a provider, whose role is not only to provide functional solutions, but to also play a specific social role to identify an individual in harmony within the collective in terms of the built form. Earlier in this study, it was assumed that the density and proximity would play a major role in defining the spatial relationships and the formal manifestations of the built form. Later it in the study of the collective high density models, two different approaches are seen in identifying the individual and defining the collective. In Swayam (4.2.1), the nature of spaces are largely transformed in order to the address the now stronger need for privacy due to proximities and densities, which so far was loosely addressed in the individual dwelling. Along with addressing privacy, it consciously attempts to maintain a harmonious relationship with the outside. This model also makes efforts to induce a sense of collective identity through its built form. Whereas in Yantra (4.2.1 a) the sense of collective is very notional, which is confined to its shared physical environment and focuses on the individual living environment. It can be said in Swayam, the collective identifies the individual, where as in the Yantra the individual with their micro environments defines the collective. It is evident from the models that an element of efficiency is introduced in order to ensure repetition to cater to the collective needs. Thus, what so far was an intuitive process of making with use of similar local materials and techniques, has evolved into a more modern approach towards assembling and construction.


The identity of an individual within the collective further gets redefined when we talk about Luminosity and Citadines. These vertical collective models with then exclusivity, makes conscious attempts to induce a sense of collective identity.

High density high rise

There is an extra effort seen in identifying the individual in isolation from the collective. In Luminosity(4.3.1), the three stairwells separate the individuals from each other and in case of citadines, the passage which separates the individuals while simultaneously inducing interactions. These models, each in their own way hint towards minimal and simple living for individuals, with large shared spaces. The individuals when seen in isolation, although elevated from the ground, share a similar relationship with the outside. These models make an extra effort to identify or in a way isolate the individuals in a collective in an attempt to create a balance between the two. The formal manifestation has also transformed drastically from the individual scattered experiments to this vertical model, which caters to diverse individuals. The system and material used here attempt to be appropriate rather than alternative, to provide neutral and efficient solutions to new needs of the collective at large and the needs of diverse individuals. Another important aspect is seen in this model, is an attempt to create collective interactions at large, not staying confined to inhabitants. This attempt is seen in both models, where the ground floor caters to public activities making it freely accessible. These attempts consciously cater to a point of the charter, “Auroville, belongs to nobody in particular, and to the humanity as a whole�.(2.2) This effort of claiming minimal personal territory is observed as a common quality across all the dwellings studied, though each of them manifests it according to their context. If one compares the first collective model, Aspiration (2.5.1 a) and the vertical model of Luminosity (4.3.1), it is evident that an individual has been drastically redefined in the collective, though some aspects still hold the same value. Both identified all the individuals equally with neutral consolidated spaces for minimal living requirements; of course the minimal requirements have changed drastically. Though in many ways the collective model of Luminosity identifies the individuals in isolation, addressing its need of privacy and maintaining the inside outside relationship. In the case of aspiration community, the individuals were identified closely as a part of the community. Since the ideals and the formal plans were abstract, one cannot judge which model defines the aimed spirit of the place, though both coexist, accommodating the need of the context.


Fig. 5.1 A diagram of twin phenomenon by Aldo Van Eyck

5.2 Insight

One could question how all these experiments have helped? since it is now solving practical issues of the world and its visionary ideals seem to be dissolving. It can be said that in many ways each effort has consciously or subconsciously informed the other and thus created the real spirit of the place that we see now. Since the last five decades certain qualities that have been constant to the built form of the place, and are the true essence of the place. Some of the qualities identified in the study are mentioned below: - Ecological sensitivity Ecology has been a major value closely related to the place and its built form, where it started with an anthropocentric need but has been a major determinant of the built to a large extent across all the dwellings studied here and also other buildings observed. This holds true for the spatial and formal relationship of the built with the environment as well as the use of materials and processes. Many approaches are also seen later also in form of environmentally friendly practices in terms of energy, water, waste etc. - Sensitivity towards the making Sensitivity towards making in term of time, involvement, local materials and traditional as well as modern techniques have been observed prominently across the study. The varied experimentation with traditional along with modern approaches can be linked to the third point of the charter, that says “Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within, Auroville will boldly spring towards future realizations�.(2.2) The workmanship and the quality and sensitivity towards the process, has been taken for granted for the place today, though none of this originally belonged to the place. It is the pioneers in the making of the place that set the standard and established the culture of making through the spirit of experimentation and their understanding of the place and its ideals. Each effort is assumed to have informed the later, thus growth can be seen a constant process, where each has contributed to the entire place. - Humanitarian approach As observed, the built form here has not been merely a functional approach or a result of architectural experimentation, it constantly tries to create a harmonious relation of man with the natural forces, man with another man, man to his community and man with his aspiration. Due to this close relationship of man and the place, the sense of belonging seems to be high. - Simplicity Simplicity here refers to the minimal living environment, which is seen in the compact nature of spaces, absence of territories, minimal physical extensions and minimal furniture (mostly inbuilt), raw finishes etc. Each individual here is from diverse cultures and places, though all show a similar minimalistic living approaches.


As mentioned earlier, Auroville was not directly conceived with these qualities, the individual efforts have informed the later, and thus the city has evolved. But if one thinks about what must have initiated these practices? It can be said that the charter along with the context might have played a conscious or subconscious role in the emergence of these values, since it was the first reference for the city to begin and suggests a particular way of life. Some hints of these are seen in the examples mentioned earlier. “ An organisation is needed for the work to be done, but the organisation must be flexible and progressive.” (The Mother, 6.2.1969) This to a large extend holds true for Auroville, since its abstract ideals, in a way acted like a fine thread in the process of its making. The openness created a frame of mind, rather than framework, to be adaptable for different context and changing scenarios. In an attempt to hold on to essence of many of these values and in order to maintain this spirit of Auroville, the planners have proposed various guidelines like green-built ratio, use and management of resources, space per person etc. that have been mentioned in the master plan 2025. Here we can see a slight shift from highly individualistic processes to the authoritative and from visionary ideas to the practical end of the spectrum, where consciousness can be backed by a few considerations. On the whole, Auroville is conceived of as a
living organism that would evolve together with the consciousness of its inhabitants; an unprecedented experiment, psychologically, socially, educationally, spiritually and architecturally. Research on forms and materials is encouraged, traditional ones were to be used in a ‘new’ dimension; the most advanced technologies, experimentation of alternative sources of energy, organic farming and ecology are to be part and parcel of life in Auroville. A lot of what we see today is a complete paradox when put next to the master plan, its dreams or an urban context. In an experimental model like this, there might be shortcomings, since it is complex scenario dealing with varied circles of life. The built form plays a major role here, though cannot completely achieve the desired spirit of the place since it deals with ways of life. In spite of this, the values achieved by the place, are of importance to the place today. Auroville, still being a place in the making will keep redefining itself to address various complexities of Urban life waiting in its future. Its values and its reconsiderations at all levels will show the way to its future and might have the potential to offer learning to various built activities at large. This study leaves me with a question as to for a meaningful built environment, how predefined or flexible should a system be? How does one decide a balance? What role can we play as architects and as planners ?


5.3 Endnote

Something to ponder on

Fig. 5.2 The otterlo Circles, Aldo Van Eyck Each culture stresses specific aspects-fundamentals solutions - which are universally relevant but which, for various reasons, particular and random are emphasized whilst others are repressed. Ultimately man suffers from these limitations, from what is overemphasized at the cost of what is omitted and often forgotten. Now, today, what is specific, should no longer depend on what is thus arbitrarily omitted or stressed, but on how these aspects are absorbed, adapted and combined for the sake of more inclusive solutions which can respond to the nature of the human person as whole instead of in a part. The three little images united in the first circle hide no conflict; nor are their properties incompatible. They complement each other, belong together, and reflect equally valid aspects . If they are allowed to interact, if their properties are brought together , it should no longer be difficult to resist the lure of false regionalism and false modernism . The essence not the form in a wonderful sequence of possibilities that would really fit man. The dancers’ bodies join to form a circular or rather spiral human wall around an open center that expands or shrinks as the spiral relaxes and tightens in the rhythm of the dance. Architecture has to deal with this ‘constant and constantly changing’ human reality, i.e. not only with what is different from the past, but also with what has remained the same.


Bibliography Books Ardalan, N., & Bakhtiar, L. (1973). Sense of unity : the sufi tradition in Persian architecture. London: Uni. of Chicago Press. Chermayeff, S., & Alexander, C. (1963). Community and privacy : toward a new architecture of humanism. New York: Doubleday Anchor Books Doubleday & Co. Inc. Ching, F. D. (1979). Architecture : form, space and order. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. Day, C., & Parnell, R. (2003). Consensus design : socially inclusive process. Oxford, Amsterdam, New York: Architectural Press . Doctor-Pingel, M. (2012). Poppo Pingel. Ahmedabad: Mapin Publishers. Forty, A. (2004). Words and buildings : a vocabulary of modern architecture. London: Thames & Hudson. Frampton, K. (1980). Modern architecture : a critical history. London: Thames & Hudson . Franck, K. A., & Lepori, R. B. (2007). Architecture from the inside out : from the body, the senses, the site and the community. New York: Wiley-Academy . Kundoo, A. (2009). Roger Anger : research on beauty : architecture 1953-2008. Berlin: Jovis Verlag GmbH. Frampton, K. (1980). Modern architecture : a critical history. London: Thames & Hudson . Lang, J. (1987). Creating architectural theory : the role of the behavioural sciences in environmental design. New Delhi: Van Nostrand Reinhold. Ligtelijn, V. (1999). Aldo van Eyck works. Berlin: Birkhäuser Verlag. Malnar, J. M., & Vodvarka, F. (1992). Interior dimension : a theoretical approach to enclosed space. New York: John Wiley & Sons . Meiss, P. V. (1990). Elements of architecture : from form to place. Tr. by Katherine Henault. London: Van Nostrand Reinhold (International) Co. Menin, S. (2003). Constructing Place: Mind and the Matter of Place-Making. London & New York: Routledge. Mandeen, J., & Centre), A. (. (2004). Auroville Architecture: Towards New Forms for a New Consciousness. Chennai: PRISMA. Neutra, R. (1969). Survival through design. Singapore: Oxford Uni. Press. Norberg-Schulz, C. (1971). Existence, space and architecture. London: Studio Vista Pub. Rapoport, A. (1969). House form and culture. Englewood: Cliff Prentice Hall . Yoshida, T. (1963). Japanese house and garden. London: Architectural Press.


Published thesis and prints Gulati, M., & (Guide), K. V. (1999). Auroville experiment : polemics of ideology vs. exisrence within the simulation of a utopian myth. Ahmedabad. Jain, M. K., & (Guide), R. M. (1996). Idea of an ideology : the significance of an ideology in architecture. Ahmedabad: CEPT Uni., School of Architecture . Jain, M., & (Guide), R. J. (1997). Understanding architecture : its significant dimensions and reflection of complexities. Ahmedabad: CEPT Uni., School of Architecture . “Auroville Project.” Journal of Indian Institute of Architects Xxxvii.2 (1971): 14-31. Print. Development Group. “Planning the City: Auroville’s Master Plan and Zones of Influence.” Auroville Today 1 May 1994, Architecture sec.: 1. Print. Guigan, Gilles, and Suhasini Ayer. “An Unavoidable Imperative.” Auroville Today 1 Dec. 1994. Kundoo, Anupama. “Tracing Patterns.” Indian Architect & Builder 1991. Print. Lithman, Alan (Savitra). Auroville: Sun Word Rising. First ed. Auroville: Community of Auroville, 1980. Print. Lithman, Alan (Savitra). The First Six Years: 1968-1974. Auroville: Auropublications, 1980.Print. “Re-visioning the City.” Auroville Review 1981.Print. Sullivan, W.M. The Dawning of Auroville. Auroville: Auroville, 1994. 53-54. Print.

Image Citations: All illustrations have been done by the author except those specified below Chapter 1 Fig 1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 1.5, 1.8, 1.10 – 1.21 Ching, F. D. (1979). Architecture : form, space and order. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. Fig 1.3 Fig 1.6 Fig 1.9 Chapter 2 Fig 2.1, 2.26 Google Earth Image Fig 2.2, 2.27, 2.30, 2.31, 2.34, 2.35, 2.45, 2.46, 2.49, 2.51 Auroville Archives Fig 2.3, 2.8 – 2.13, 2.17 – 2.21, 2.23 – 2.25, 2.59 – 2.64 Mandeen, J., & Centre), A. (. (2004). Auroville Architecture: Towards New Forms for a New Consciousness. Chennai: PRISMA.


Fig 2.4, 2.5 Fig 2.6 Fig 2.7 Fig 2.14 Fig 2.15 Fig 2.16 Fig 2.40 Fig 2.29 , 2.33

Fig 2.47, 2.52 Fig 2.48 Fig 2.65, 2.66 ebbsfleet-garden-city-george-osborne Schoenauer, N., (2000). 6,000 Years of Housing. W.W. Norton Redrawn based on “Auroville Project.” Journal of Indian Institute of Architects Xxxvii.2 (1971): 14-31. Print. Gulati, M., & (Guide), K. V. (1999). Auroville experiment : polemics of ideology vs. exisrence within the simulation of a utopian myth. Ahmedabad. Redrawn based on drawings provided by Auroville Archives Auroville Masterplan Proposal 2025

Chapter 4 Fig 4.2, 4.3, 4.21, 4.38, 4.58, 4.69, 4.92, 4.104, 4.127 Worked on Google Earth Images Fig 4.14 K. Anupama (2000). A Modern Mud House. Paper Fig 4.18, 4.26 – 4.28 Image courtesy White Ant Studio, Auroville Fig 4.31 Redrawn based on drawings from White Ant Studio, Auroville Fig 4.39 Redrawn based on drawings from Dustudio, Auroville Fig 4.40 – 4.42, 4.44, 4.46, 4.50, 4.52, 4.65, 4.84, 4.87 – 4.91 Image courtesy Dustudio, Auroville Fig 4.59, 4.70, 4.71 Redrawn based on drawings from Dustudio, Auroville Fig 4.93, 4.96 Redrawn based on drawings from Doctor Mona Pingel Fig 4.100 – 4.102 Image courtesy Doctor Mona Pingel Fig 4.105, 4.108 Redrawn based on drawings from Ganesh Bala Fig 4.106, 4.107, 4.115, 4.116, 4.123, 4.125, 4.126 Image courtesy David Nightingale Fig 4.129, 4.130 Redrawn based on drawings from Sonali Phadnis Fig 4.135, 4.136 Auroville Today. (May 2009). Citadines. Auroville. Paper Chapter 5 Fig 5.1, 5.2


Ligtelijn, V. (1999). Aldo van Eyck works. Berlin: Birkhäuser Verlag.



Appendix 119







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