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Building bridges through 
'Inner Architecture'

- September 2002


A personal reporting by Peter Anderschitz  on the International Forum of Young Architects (IFYA) with focus on Auroville's International Zone. This annual international design forum took place in Auroville under the label of 'Inner Architecture' from Sept. 15th until 29th 2002.

Why they came..?

Why they all came together - with a lot of effort from both the participants and the organisers - and for a rather unknown adventure? Those young professional architects from far away: from Vietnam, Germany, USA; as well as those young architecture students from India and Europe who by joining unexpectedly added even more spice to the learning exercise..?

They came to learn from each other and from this richly inspiring environment called Auroville, which is a City with a Vision, yes, but also a place and a people just beginning to learn how to become citizens - of a new world.. They came to learn, and it turned out that everybody, participants and organisers, became student during these two weeks.

An other dimension to architecture

Naturally, the intention and the topic of the forum 'Inner Architecture', was the signal and call to look for another dimension to architecture, and urban and environmental design, with another intention, another way of action. Focusing the work on Auroville's International Zone, which only recently got another push by the AVI Centres expressing the need for a more dynamic communication and interaction of Auroville in the world at large, the forum provided the collective flesh to the topic: how to leave room, or create space, for the soul-aspect of nation-cultures to be expressed, to become an essential part of the City's inner platform for the realisation of human unity in diversity?

Lively Auroville scenario

Having said all that, the IFYA event then became indeed a living example of an ideal Auroville scenario: a creative exchange and interaction between all participants with most diverse backgrounds in an atmosphere of non-competitiveness and sharing.

And of course, the two-week seminar could take advantage from the best that Auroville has to offer: the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture providing the workplace, excursions touching Auroville's ground realities and life experiences, informal lectures and exercises as introduction to the topic, interviews and presentations by 'core' Aurovilians pertaining to the issue, a workshop experiencing the 'Architecture of the Body', and very positive response and support by those Auroville working groups and individuals which are particularly involved with the development of the International Zone.

Let's have a look at what happened

These two weeks, enhanced by Auroville's pulsating energy field, provided a time-slot with an intense mixture of parallel and exiting use of astonishingly different working tools and media of expression, from hi-tech to ground-stuff; interwoven with Tibetan chants, the heat, the power cuts -or ego cuts- into the flow of energy; at times the pressing need for inspiring guidance; an opening up inner and outer spaces so as to concentrate, share, meditate...

Working results

Surprisingly, six of the seven individual design proposals eventually developed a common 'attitude', coming very close to merging into one single concept including the following features:

  • Respect for the land and for the original vision of Auroville's Galaxy town plan as a potentially powerful formation.

  • Adopting the concept of a free positioning of national-cultural pavilions, supported by an understanding of Sri Aurobindo's 'ideal of the free grouping of mankind' as a guiding principle - where deeper affinities can emerge to get then formulated in the process of positioning. For this to happen, interesting variations were proposed in regard to integrating the various 'pavilions': One option saw a transportation loop connecting all pavilions in an open landscaped park, and the other worked through a flow of spaces covered by landscaped roofs under which each 'pavilion' can find its proper place, while all together comprise a peaceful valley, open towards the Matrimandir.

Other approaches concentrated rather on intuitive methods for planning, on development processes and growth-patterns: suggesting concentrated development in a unifying way along the educational 'focal-points', in order for the pavilions to reach out from there.


'Inner Architecture' means first of all an attitude to build from within, from an inner source. From that space, a good spirit of working together emerged, producing fresh insights into the challenging work of developing the International Zone. Vice versa, the participants carried some of that spirit back to their home countries.

However, and sadly enough, from Auroville's many architects only a few expressed interest. Were they too busy with 'reality', is 'envisioning the City of the Future' nowadays neither reasonable nor affordable?

And couldn't an exercise like this be seen as one of many more to come, a living part of an international school of architecture to come? Not only about producing, but also about inducing results?

Contact: peterauroville.org.in

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