Auro Trip

tripEducational Tour – Auroville + Pondicherry, 28th – 30th December 2013 

Text: MS. Navanetha Kumari., II B.Arch

First day (28.12.13)

We went to Bharat Nivas, Ar. Sonali explained about the place. There is a stage which is called SACHEU at the right side of the Bharat Nivas circular in shape. In this (SACHEU) common place cultural practice and other events occur. In plan it looks like a lotus and the gallery is circular. There are eight inclined columns which are made of exposed concrete. These inclined beams are connected to the central circular beams i.e., ring beam. And it makes trapezium shape with the principle the columns are load bearing when it is leaned inwards like human leg leaning frontward. The circular hall indicates that they are equal no levels in the hall.

Then next we went to Unity Pavilion. Here, there is a large table called peace table which is designed by George Nakashima and in this design he used only one tree. Ms. Jaya did a presentation Auroville and divisions of zones in this village. These Zones include the international zone, industrial zone, residential zone and cultural zone. In this Pavilion there were books and painting on display. In that Kanjanjunga painting is amazing.

Next we walked and reached Savitri Bhavan, there is a large statue of Sir Aurobindo. And there is a large gallery which is nice with sloped roof with skylight. Here, they have used broken tiles on the roof in their meditation hall. Sunshade is very different which adds the beauty to the elevation. There is also universal Barrier Free lift which has the flooring similar to the building flooring and has the railing inside. In skirting they worked lot to make groves which explain that their importance in spatial detail. They used Aerocon blocks. She also told us that at the ancient times there is nothing in the Auroville and there is many natal disasters attempted there. Then the people who first entered there planted the trees everywhere and there is no building. After a long time they started building a large building which the work of volunteers who come there for internship and many purpose.

We went to Solar kitchen. There in front of the solar kitchen are many shops which have the manmade things made by the foreigners. The things include cosmetics, lamp cover,etc, . Then we entered into the solar kitchen. There i saw a chimney which is very different for us to see. They planted plants at the ground level and it is not like a chimney. Then we have our food there which is also very different because it has no oil and cooked with the help of steam from the solar panel. We had our lunch and went to upstairs where we saw a amazing water treatment which is like fountain and the water is used for the gardening purpose and there is also a café. Then we went to restroom which is very clean and hygienic and has a large space which very different from our local toilets. Then we wind up from there and waited outside for some time for all students to come. We sat there in a circle like structure which is kept for seating it is very enjoyable. Then we got in to the bus.

Then after lunch we went to “sacred grove”. Here Ar. Manogopalan guided us. They used waste material for many useful purposes. They used container for storage purpose. They dig one part of the land for storage of water. They used petrol tubes for curtains. The materials from demolished buildings are used there for construction. We saw a house made of bamboo which is very beautiful. There we saw two containers where one container is used for storing useful things like weapons, tools used for construction and another container used for waste materials. They decompose the food materials and used as a manure. The chamber two boxes fixed together. After that Mr. Manogopalan explained us about how the materials used for construction. There they divide the demolished building materials in to three group namely big stones, small gravels, and fine sand and after separation they were used for construction. Our sir asked him about the material used for curtains for that he told that these are petroleum tubes and it is waste material for others but we treat it and used for construction to reduce the waste quantity in the world.

Then we entered Nanadhanam School. It was designed by Ar. Shylaja. It has the two segments in front for differentiating the outside environment and the school; it acts as a foyer for the building. It has large courtyard which is airy. In this school she makes a contact between sky and student which helps the students to explore their thoughts. She used organic shapes in the building and she doesn’t add any closed walls all the wall have some opening and openings are very natural. She paid attention to the material purity since she avoid plastering. She has used pebbles around the school which acts as a rainwater harvesting and adds aesthetic look to the school. She laid large windows since it easy for the child to contact with the environment easily. The things in the school are proportionate to the child since it is very comfortable for the child. The corridor is very spacious which includes some activates of the children. The classroom leads to the space where the children are playing. She told that the place for playing is water proof since the children used those places for a water pool in the summer season. They have space for sand pit where the children like to play all the time. There are place for lunch which is also very spacious. They also display the student’s works in the wall in the way of motivating the students for studying. The school was not like a common school it’s very different and that is the first school i saw like that. The activities in the school are very different for us and i learned from that that’s the way of teaching the kindergarten students. The school was under construction and there she showed the roof tile in use which is different for thermal insulation and it has the different way of lying. Then we wind up from the school.

Next we went to Youth Carnival where the activities like dance, games,etc happened and Mr. Parthasarathy guided us and he told that there is no Indian money is used instead they use ubby which costs 10rs. Then we finished our trip and went to room since we were very tired.

Second day (29.12.13)

First we went to town hall which has two buildings interconnected with a café at the centre. It is located at the north of the Matri Mandir and this spherical building they claim is the soul of the Auroville. It has model at the ground floor and at the first floor there are information about Auroville. It has the large circular art of installations at the center which is suspended in the top roof. The first floor railing is sloped inwards for the view of the second floor and the railing in the second floor is projected outwards which form a mass of volume. It has the cantilever steps which are laid with the help of steels. It has the sloped façade near to the Matri Mandir. Then next we went to visitor’s center which has information centre, boutiques named Kalki boutique; Mira boutique; La boutique bookshop

First we entered information centre where there are lot of information about Matri Mandir. There are sections and photos of the Matri Mandir. They told us to the video in the video room which has the information about how the Auroville found. But because of the time lag we were unable to see that video. Then we started to Mira boutique which has lot of things like dress, cosmetics, shoe, cap etc. But the things available there are mostly handmade and very beautiful. Then we went to Kalki boutique there are many things like dress, cup set, cosmetics, perfumes etc. There is also one coffee shop nearby boutiques. Then there is large space for gardening behind the boutiques. There is also coffee shop which is at the left side of the entrance. We had a coffee there. I amazed about the quality of the cup which the coffee is offered. There is a clean and hygienic toilet there which is very spacious and have a space for a changing and separate toilet for physically challenged people and we get that room key from the watchman and see it, it has all the facilities ever we didn’t see the toilet like that. Then we get back from the visitors center.

Next we went to Pondicherry and our sir let us to beach road where the Gandhi statue statues is situated. He told that had a lunch anywhere u want and wind here at 3.45pm. Then we started to search for hotel and we walked a long way to find hotel. On the way we saw a park which is very natural, and Pondicherry legislative assembly, lot of small shops, ATM centre where we took money, etc. After a long walk we found a hotel. Then we finished a lunch there and we started to Gandhi statue and reached there at 4.00pm.

And then we met a person named Mr. Ashok panda who came there to guide us for a heritage walk. In the heritage walk we saw lot of buildings which is built by French and the buildings employed the style of French. The residences found there are mostly symmetrical and the windows are different with the view of 180 degree to the road in the ground floor only since there is balcony in the first floor. They used mostly wood for balustrade detailing in the balcony. And in the most of the residence they bring stairs in front of the building and it adds the beauty to the elevation. The streets are very straight and the buildings have no foyer or portico. We saw only one building which employed the style of Auroville. We went to a church named notre dame des angels church which have the large dome at the center and it has the grazing vaults and columns which have Corinthian capital and stained glass window. We visited hotel de i’orient, it has a large courtyard and it has many wood works. The entry for a room above the stairs is finished amazingly with the wood with the battens at the back. The buildings are mostly painted light colors only. On the way we saw many small shops. Then we finished heritage walk and went to beach for a pleasure walk. There we saw many trolley shops which have the things made of pearls. Behind the Gandhi statue there are eight large columns standing simply without any reasons and we don’t know it is there. After spending some time there we returned to the room.

Third day (30.12.13)

Third day we start from the room at 8.30pm and went to the earth institute and waited for one person named Mr. Iyyappan who came there to guide us to come but he didn’t come so we went for a breakfast to the nearby hotel which looks naturally and it has no closed walls and it is exposed to the outside environment. There we finished breakfast and wind up. Then at the earth institute we saw a display of the earthen blocks which is mostly used in the Auroville. It is much cost and energy effective. There I like a stone used for stairs which is easy for laying and adds aesthetical look for the building. Some of the blocks displayed there are compressed stabilized earth blocks, round, dry interlocking blocks, plain, hollow etc. Then we saw a presentation about manufacturing of the compressed earth blocks and the usage of the earthen blocks. In the presentation, he told that there is dome like structure inside the building at the top and has a flat roof above that which has a small opening which is the outlet of the hot air inside the room. And it is the way of thermal insulation. He also present about the laying of the earth at the roof with the help of the sting which is laid first acts as the guideline. Then he also present about the compressed earth foundation which involves the following steps; digging the earth, and fill the mixture of clay sand (where the mixture contains clay soil, sand and one bag of cement) and spread the mixture properly and sprinkle the water above it and rammed the earth until it is hard. Likewise the foundation is laid.

Then we attended a workshop about how the compressed earth block is made with the physical work and not with the machine work. The block is made of the mixture that clay soil, sand and cement. That could be mixed three times in the dry condition and three times in the wet condition with the five percent of the water. And then it ready to make a block. It is not prepared easily it wants a group of seven members for the manufacturing of the block. The force applied there is 150kn. It is kept there for drying and it is closed with corrugated sheet to avoid the exposure to the sunlight. It is kept there for one month but it is ready for use after one week it but it is not advisable. There are some blocks kept for research and selling. Then we finished the workshop and had a lunch in the hotel where we ate in the morning.

Next we started to the CRIPA which is the performing arts rehearsal hall made of many wood works but it doesn’t finished completely because of the economic problem. There we met Ar. David the designer of CRIPA. There are triangular rotatable cupboards at the sides and large mirror at the sides which defines the space of the CRIPA. There is a person playing piano for the meditation which is very delicious to hear. The roof of the CRIPA is worked with wood. It has the dressing and rest room at the backside of the CRIPA inside. The façade of the CRIPA is very amazing.

Then we finally went to last school where Mr. Baskar guided us who is contractor concentrates on detailing work. The school is in under construction. The roof of the building is adoptable for thermal insulation. It has double skins and there is a circular building which has the scattered windows in which there is a library in the top floor has the entry from the next building with the help of the bridge (yet it is not constructed). All the buildings are interconnected. And we finished the trip.

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