There are 12 main gardens around Matrimandir—the meditation pavilion located at the centre of the experimental township of Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India. An integral part of the city’s masterplan given by the late French architect Roger Anger, each garden has been assigned a specific spiritual theme by Auroville’s founder Mirra Alfassa, better known as The Mother.
Completion Year: 2022
Gross Built Area: 972 sqm
Project Location: Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India
Program: Gardens for recreation and meditation
Designers: Anandit Sachdev, Rupal Rathore, Vir Shah
Image Credits: Alessandra Silver
The gardens of Life and Power are adjacent to one another and partially shaded by a big banyan tree around which Aurovillians gather for silent meditation. While the design concepts and intended experience of both the gardens set them apart, the landscaping techniques and materials used create a seamless transition between the two.
The construction of the gardens began in November 2021 and was completed in August 2022. The concept of ‘life’ has been described as a force or a series of transforming energies in Auroville’s spiritual teachings. Life Garden, therefore, is designed as a journey through different elements, with water signified as the genesis of life. The experience of Power Garden, on the other hand, emphasizes aesthetic beauty. Taking inspiration from minimalistic Japanese gardens, the primary focus in Power Garden is the set of sculptural pots or ‘urlis’ placed in a bed of white marble chips.
The Matrimandir Gardens of Life and Power have been built with materials sourced either from the Matrimandir workshops or transported from sites within Tamil Nadu. Stones like kadappa, granite and red Agra sandstone have been cut and finished onsite. A variety of hibiscus, among other flowers and ground covers, has been planted in both the gardens. This project is the result of a collaboration between the three architects selected through a competition process, and local experts in Auroville, along with inputs from the Aurovillian community.
Anandit Sachdev is a researcher in the field of sonic studies and the built environment. He holds an M.Sc. in Revitalization of Historic City Districts from Brandenburg Technical University, Germany. Currently, Anandit works as an Assistant Professor at Jindal School of Art and Architecture, OP Jindal Global University, India.
Rupal Rathore is an architect, writer and yoga enthusiast based in India. She is a regular contributor of long-form articles at Disegno Journal and Damn Magazine that explore the intersections between design, culture, and politics. Rupal practices design under her studio The Native Platform from the quaint town of Udaipur.
Vir Shah is an architect and film enthusiast from Ahmedabad, India. He is interested in exploring the convergence of the two disciplines—cinema and human-made environments. Vir is presently pursuing a Masters in Architecture and Urban Design at GSAPP Columbia University, USA.