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British Pavilion

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The British Cultural Pavilion in the International Zone of Auroville

(Draft summary of a series of discussions amongst British Aurovilians and guests, autumn 2001 to spring 2002, intended as a base for further discussion in Auroville and the UK)

1. Objectives
2. Proposed Activities
3. Context : the European Agora
Facilities to be provided
Next steps


1. Objectives

To represent the special contribution of Britain to the “world-concert” of varied cultures, in the context of the “International University Centre” proposed by the Mother for the International Zone of Auroville.

(Background material : The Mother's texts, 2 quotations from Sri Aurobindo; International Zone concept)


2. Proposed Activities

  • To host studies and research in English Language, Literature and Culture for the benefit of Auroville youth, Aurovilians, students from Pondicherry University and other educational institutions in the area, students from elsewhere in India and from around the world.
  • To host teachers, students, cultural and technical experts, artists and performers from Britain to visit Auroville and share their expertise, as well as imbibing new stimuli offered by international context.
  • To provide a vivid and lively experience of “Britishness” to tourists and visitors as well as students.

3. Context : the European Agora

It is proposed that the premises to house these activities, constituting the British Pavilion, should help to define the central “agora” which should form the focal point of the European area of the International Zone. This means that the planning and design of the pavilion would take into consideration the facilities being provided by other European cultures, with the aim of manifesting a very diverse and fascinating “townscape” of activities and buildings.

(Background material : The European Agora brochure)

4. Facilities to be provided

To fulfil these objectives and house these activities it is proposed to aim to provide :

•  Reading Room and Library

•  Multipurpose hall for classes, video and slide-shows, talks, exhibitions etc.

•  Bookshop

•  Games Collection, with facilities for both playing and borrowing

•  Accommodation for guests (students, visiting experts …) in a “British Inn”

•  A beautiful shady garden with roses, where British teas can be served

•  Playing fields

•  Small theatre (audience of 300-500) with a very special atmosphere

The main entrance to the British House should be on the Agora. The building can be several stories high (3 – 4) and have an urban character, with the garden and then the playing fields behind, away from the square.

It is envisaged to develop these facilities in phases. What should come first and the stages of development need further discussion.

5. Next steps

•  To present these ideas at the International Zone seminar scheduled for May 5, 2002, and participate in the week leading up to it by organising a “British night”, probably with the help of the British Council's cultural representative in Chennai, Ms. Rather Jafer. Anne will follow up.

•  To explore the possibility of involving British architectural teachers and students in design discussions and proposals. Norman and Diana are in contact with some architects in Britain and will try to follow up on this.

•  To put together an inspiring brochure (or series of brochures) to provide information about the International Zone of Auroville, the European area, and the British Pavilion. Anne is working on this, as well as coordinating the discussions here, and providing liaison with the other European representatives. She plans to do more research while she is in Britain during the summer.

•  To keep members of AVI UK informed about our ideas
and request their input and support. These ideas should get presented at the AVI general meeting to be held in California this summer. Who will do this for us?

•  To go on meeting from time to time to refine and develop our ideas and try to move towards concrete steps and manifest at least the first phase of the Pavilion (the Inn? The Reading Room?)


Meanwhile our oak-saplings will go to Kodaikanal, to give them a better change to establish themselves.


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