Newsletter April 2006
For those of you who have been reading the Matrimandir newsletter for years, perhaps even for decades, it may seem a bit unbelievable that we are now declaring the imminent end of the construction of the main building and the infrastructure around it!
But this certainly seems to be the case. As 2006 progresses all of the major aspects of the building construction are either well underway or poised for the final phase of execution. The areas that are ready for some new action which has not been seen so far are three in number:
1 - The installation of the translucent inner skin triangles;
2 - The ramp finishing, including top and bottom cladding and glass parapets; and
3 - The installation of the new sun-tracking mirror system on the top of the building.
The areas which are moving steadily forward on a course set in motion several years ago include:
The renewal of the waterproofing layer of the outer skin, along with the final fixation of the 1,450 golden discs which cover the outer surface of Matrimandir;
The completion of the golden shields, featuring specially-designed discs above each of the four main entrances;
The finishing of the exteriors and interiors of the 12 large petals surrounding the Matrimandir that contain the individual colored meditation rooms;
The completion of the pathways and water infrastructure in the gardens around Matrimandir, inside the 22-acre area known as “the Oval”.
There are many other specialized areas of work to be completed, of course; some small, like the details of the marble works on the first and second levels, and some large, like the installation of the stainless steel maintenance crane on the top of Matrimandir. But the areas listed above are the principal ones, the broad outlines of the activities underway.
Inside Matrimandir the atmosphere is a bit like that of a theater just before the curtain goes up and the play begins: there is a certain silence, a sense of hushed expectation. The white ramps spiral through the spherical space of the interior, glistening with their coats of fresh paint, and the whole vast inner surface of the concrete and ferrocement skin has been brushed and sanded and is waiting to be painted and fitted with its translucent triangular panels.
High up on the inner skin, out of sight from all but the few who climb up on top of the Inner Chamber, the choreographed movement to finalize of the interior of Matrimandir has just begun. Fixtures are being glued on concrete beams that will eventually hold the electric wiring for lighting the inner skin.
Soon the painters will come, giving the whole surface a uniform white finish.
Then the safety nets will be fitted in the upper rows of the inner skin, where the building curves inward on itself, making maintenance work a risky business.
Already a long row of assembled triangular panels for the inner skin are waiting back- stage (in the inner skin workshop) for the moment when they will be brought out one by one and fixed onto the beams of the spaceframe row by row starting from the very top of the building. Over the coming months that work will continue, and the finished surface of the inner skin will become more and more visible as it reaches downwards towards the equator level of the sphere.
Soon , however, we will reach the level of the ramps leading from the second level up to the Inner Chamber and remove the scaffolding pipes. Then we will have to take up the work of installing the glass panels of the ramp parapets. As some of you will recall, the process of fabrication and bending the glass panels was begun some years ago in a factory in Calcutta, but had to be suspended when the factory ran into labour difficulties and was forced to shut down – with our glass still inside!. With the pressure on to finish this year, other avenues of fabricating new glass panels are already being explored with a glass factory in south India .
Of course we will continue our efforts to get the Calcutta glass released and hope that it will reach here in time.
Up on the roof, a third new work area has just begun, the delicate job of installing the three-mirror sun-tracking system that will guide the sunbeam down into the Inner Room. These mirrors have to be integrated into the spaces already created for them at the time the new AC ducting system on the roof was built, at the end of last year.
This heliostat system is presently being assembled down in the workshop. Over the next month or so we will lift the different components up onto the roof , bolt them in place and then begin the last phase, which is to link the sun-tracking mirror (the heliostat) to its computerized control system and fine-tune its orientation and tracking systems. More about that when we get to that last phase.
To give you a better idea of where the AC ducts and mirror system are located , not to mention the yet-to-come service crane, below is an engineer drawing showing these elements as seen from above.
Thus the work proceeds, and as we move into the heat of the Indian summer, there is a steadiness in the pace of the work, and a quiet determination to move towards completion. It is like the movement of a marathon runner who, having crossed miles and miles of terrain, some of it of rough, some of it uphill and some down, is now entering the last laps of his long course.
We are approaching an end, an end which will in turn be a beginning of another further movement, of the building of the gardens and the lake beyond.
But for today, our eyes are on the completion of the present course - the building and the gardens infrastructure. We put aside thoughts of the past and thoughts of the future as we move ahead with full energy and joy in these wonderful days.
We end with a little note to all our donors. We were happy to receive many of you over the February darshan period that ran right up to Auroville's birthday this time. We are appreciative of the extra efforts many of you have been and are making in this final year of the construction to help us complete the work on schedule. We hope you will continue to do whatever you can throughout the year, for we still need another three Crore rupees to finish! That's about US $ 700,000, and we hope to raise it within the year! Even though our tax exemption ( for donations within India ) u/s 35(1)(ii) has lapsed again, our 80G exemption is valid and has been extended up to 2010
As you have read in our earlier newsletter, the Inner Chamber is again open, but for a limited time daily and to a limited extent. For the moment only people who have already visited before and are holding donor cards or white passes can go up to the Chamber. This is a temporary arrangement as we are in a period of intense construction. The visiting hour is from 5 to 6 p.m. daily and it is necessary to book a place in advance. This can be done by phoning us between 9 and 10 a.m. (Monday to Saturday) at (0413)2622268 or 2622204 or by sending us an email ( see address below) if time allows. You can phone on the day of your visit or ahead of time. The two petals of Peace and Equality remain open during the same hour ( 5 to 6 p.m. daily) but you need not book a space in advance.
M A T R I M A N D I R - A U R O V I L L E 6 0 5 1 0 1 -
T A M I L N A D U - I N D I A
Tel. (91) (0413) 262-2268 (sectt); 262-2228 (finance); 262-2153
(workshop); 262-2373 (info). FAX: (91) (0413) 262-2053;