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Suhasini Ayer - Gallery


The Arvind eye hospital was designed in partnership with Auroservice Pondicherry (an architecture and town planning office based in Pondicherry) is the biggest eye care facility in Asia. The complex has 1200 beds of which two thirds' is reserved to provide free eye care to the poor. The housing part of the complex contains residences for the doctors, nursing staff and administrators. The site conditions forced the hospital to have a full east-west orientation which in this climate is not very conducive to either good ventilation or reducing solar gain. So the buildings have been designed with double skin and shading devices that would counter act this.

Besides providing eye care facilities this complex has teaching and training facilities for doctors and nurses. Auditoriums, class rooms and libraries are incorporated within the main complex. The waste water generated by this complex is treated using non-chemical and mechanical techniques to be reused in toilet flushing, landscaping and food growing.

Centre guest house:

This is one of the earliest guest houses of Auroville around a large banyan tree. The development is done using the banyan as the focus with its sit out as the centre of activity. The buildings are a combination of tile roofs around the first cluster and larger buildings that have concrete framed structures enclosing them. All the buildings use this inside-outside play to create spaces that take advantage of the tropical setting.

The landscaping integrates the existing trees and the line of Palmyra trees that have been on the land before the project of Auroville started. These landmarks create spaces between the buildings that allow an intimate scale. This scale is what gives this guest house it unique character. The landscaping is a mixed use of vegetable gardens with fruit trees and ornamental shrubs/trees. The waste/sewage water is treated and reused in the gardens. This guest house serves a dual function, it houses the visitors and also is a meeting point of several Aurovilians and groups that come for trainings/workshops. So the visitors get to involve themselves in the life of Auroville.

The Kindergarten of Auroville

The Kindergarten of Auroville is for 60-65 children of 3-7 years of age belonging to different nationalities. The main design guidelines was: the spaces of the classroom should allow multiple usage pattern as there was to be no teacher-student hierarchy, each class room should link to a central space that would act as a assembly and the circulation space between classrooms, and the third important element was that every space in the complex would physically link to the landscape outside. The design that emerged was layout of rooms around a central space to the scale of a child to lessen the trauma on his/her first experience of spending time away from a non-domestic environment without an intimate adult around.
The sizes of the rooms were designed such that it allows the children to use it in a non-structured manner, allowing large or small groups to work. The furniture is all floor seating with cushions and low tables that could be moved around. The pin boards are placed between deep windows that double as seats where 2-3 children can sit, this makes these spaces become spaces of interaction rather than only display. The teaching process as put forward by the teachers and the children when the design guidelines were formed was "the rooms should allow a free progress system of teaching which allows each child to learn at his/her own pace". In this the design of the classrooms has fulfilled its brief as the users find flexibility within the built environment that allows them a wide range of usage. The educational facility includes more than the reading/writing and play. The fact of having personalized green space attached to each classroom has allowed the kindergarten to develop further their program of gardening, building activity and nature projects. The craft and art areas have been successful, in fact they use the new art and craft room for marathon block building sessions organized by the children as they find the space challenging. The body awareness and expression activities of dance, music and theatre takes place in the multipurpose space that flows out through the little reading room to the central assembly. The theater and music activities in this space is easier on the child as the space is fully open to the gardens taking away the feeling of being watched by the rest of the class. This Project has received the Honors Award 2003 from the "Design Share Awards", California, under the "innovative school designs in the world"



left: Pour Tous extention under construction

Auroville is an international town comprising of 4 main zones that would serve the needs of habitation, industry, culture and an international area and this is surrounded by a green belt that would be forests, farms and orchards. The town has a concept that is popularly known as the "Galaxy concept". The centre of the town is a garden with three foci, which comprises of the "Matrimandir", "the Amphitheater" and "the Banyan tree". The services of the town would be strung along a boulevard known as the "Crown", which would be accessible from all the 4 zones by the radials that start at the periphery and swing to the "Crown". The crown itself would be comprised of the facilities that are inherent to the character of the zone. The "Solar Kitchen" is located on the "Crown" in the low-density section of the Residential Zone. This Project is meant to be a canteen where eventually people living in this area would eat there or get their meals delivered to the settlements where they live. Today it serves the needs of present population of Auroville. It is designed to serve 1000 meals three times a day. The kitchen and dining hall has been functioning since October '98 and the solar bowl component is functioning since late 2000.

The aim of the project was to build a demonstration project

  • In the use of SOLAR THERMAL ENERGY in steam generation, this in the case of this project will be used for cooking meals 3 times a day for about 1000 people.
  • To support the organic farming sector of Auroville and the local villages by being the main purchaser for their products, this can be used for the meals prepared in the kitchen.
  • To provide for the nutritional needs of the present community of Auroville (1700 inhabitants approx :) including the meals at the schools, work places and for special occasions.
  • To be a demonstration project for Appropriate building materials and technology, Solar Passive Architecture and Waste Water Recycling.
  • The project comprises of 4 distinct sections
  • The solar bowl and its technical rooms
  • the kitchen, storage and the preparation sections,
  • The ancillary rooms like the laundry, gas bottles
  • Electrical and generator rooms
  • The public part of the building which is the dining hall.

On the first floor we have a Café and internet/email facilities.
As the project is more an industrial building in 70% of its functional space and only 30% is public access, it was a challenge to design a building where the flow of people be restricted to one end of the building even when they can see a long mass in front of their eyes. Also as the project is located on the "crown" where the development controls demanded a narrow linear plan which was in total contradiction to functional demands of the project the design challenge was considerable.

The Visitors Centre


The visitors Centre was the first demonstration project of the Auroville Building Centre and it aims were:

  • It is the reception center for the hundreds of visitors who visit Auroville everyday wanting to be informed about the Aims and objectives of the Project.
  • It is a demonstration center for alternative technologies such as appropriate building technologies, land reclamation and afforestation, renewable energies, water management and waste recycling techniques etc.
  • It has been the training field for the local villagers in soil block making, earth construction techniques such as arches and domes and ferrocement roofing techniques.

This project has had funding from several agencies (private and Governmental) as it is a high visibility complex that is visited every day by minimum of 1000 persons. The project has been growing with several additions and extensions since 1990. The building has received the "Hassan fathy Award for Architecture" from Egypt in 1991 and has been nominated for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1992

see also: community Prarthna; Pour Tous II


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