Auroville wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries can live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity. — Mirra Alfassa 

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Auroville the city of dawn ©

Auroville, the city of dawn, is consecrated to the experimental human unity in the early 1930s belonging to humans as a whole, and by 1966 the city was commended by UNESCO as the future city of humanity. Auroville is an instance of how a utopian city should resemble. 

Sri Aurobindo had a vision of a utopian city that had citizens from all over the world living together in complete peace and harmony. This vision of Sri Aurobindo led to the idea of ‘Auroville’. Mirra Alfassa is also known as the mother was an occultist. She had many spiritual experiences since her childhood and had visions. In 1924, she travelled to Pondicherry and met Sri Aurobindo, the man her `visions were leading to. Mirra Alfassa, The Mother along with Sri Aurobindo worked together for the manifestation of physical and psychological transformation. On 5th December 1950, Sri Aurobindo passed away. The mother continued his works on physical and psychological transformation. Soon after his demise, a city was erected that encompassed the visions of Sri Aurobindo. A site near Pondicherry was chosen to plan out the city.

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The idea of a utopian city derived from the concept of the galaxy.  ©archdaily 

Planning of the utopian city was done by the well-known French architect Roger Anger. In 1965, the mother laid down the first sketch of the city, which had all the important areas that would fulfil the vision of a universal city. Roger, along with the first sketch, came up with the concept of the galaxy. It all started with the idea of a galaxy in which various lines of forces unrolled from a central point of focus. The concept needed a place on the site for the centre of the galaxy. Roger brought the map to the mother to select the geographical centre of the city. The mother pointed out a place on the site which had a banyan tree which is regarded as sacred in India and decided to make it the centre around which the city would flourish. The city spirals around the banyan tree and not the Matri mandir. On 28th February 1968, around 5000 people from different states of India and representatives from 124 nations came together for an inauguration of the future township. All the representatives brought soil from their motherland which was mixed and kept in the lotus-shaped urn in Auroville.

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Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville ©archdaily

Based on the first sketch of Auroville, the city is divided into six zones. The city has an area with a radius of 1.25 kilometres. The centre of the town is a peace zone where lies an amphitheatre with the urn which contains the soil of 124 countries, gardens and a lake to create an atmosphere of serenity and the famous Matri mandir ‘the temple of mother’. East to the peace zone lies the cultural zone, which is spread over an area of 93 hectares. This zone is the site for applied research and education in artistic expressions. This zone facilities like arts, education, culture and sports. Opposite to the cultural zone lies the international zone spreading across 74 hectares of land, which houses all the national and cultural pavilion centres creating an indication of unity in diversity through the participation and involvement of each nation to humanity and utterances of the genius. Next is the residential zone, which is the largest of all the city zones extending to 189 hectares surrounded by parks in the west, north and south. 55 percent of the area is green cover and 45% is the built surface creating an urban density balanced by nature. The access to this area is through the crown road, which further distributes to radial roads and dividing the zones into different sectors of increasing densities. A green belt of width 1.25 kilometres surrounds the city, creating an urban encroachment between the habitats and sources of medicines, wildlife area, food, etc. This is a zone for farms, wildlife, dairies and forests. Currently, the 405 hectares of green belt stands as an example of the transformation of wasteland into an ecosystem and serving as lungs to the Auroville.

Temple tree retreat by Ar. Mona Pingel ©archdaily 

In Auroville, experimentation in building covers different facets of architecture and incorporates building materials, climate-responsive architecture, building innovation, reconciliation with regular environmental factors, practical structures, geometry, just as the design of spaces themselves, incorporating exploring different avenues regarding the way of life of the client. Simultaneously, the push to test for ‘community living’ as a stage towards the future city, offered to ascend to ‘Auromodèle’, which territory despite everything stays a building composition of structures and shapes that think outside the box of the regular guideline of ‘four walls and a rooftop’ residence. These beginnings incited a revolution in the self-manufacturers of the ’70s and the mid-’80s in trying different things with building materials, innovation, designs and ways of life.


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