Auroville, a ‘city-in-the-making’ in South India, was founded in 1968 as a model city for the future where all aspects of city life could be radically rethought as an integral experiment. This project falls under the Indian Ministry of Human Resource and is supported by UNESCO.
The studio will investigate urban co-housing prototypes in a high-density context, with a focus on redefinition of private and shared spaces in the context of community living. The context of Auroville is radical in its relationship to land as a non-ownable resource belonging to the ‘commons.’ Alongside new ideas of mobility, circular economy, and green infrastructure, non-ownership of land allows the development of collective living models that are not restricted by plot definitions but by land use definitions. The site lies within a compact residential area designed to house 8000 inhabitants and their related services.
Human settlements need to reorganize themselves in the interest of reducing resource consumption while enhancing the human potential to propel human society forward. Taking note of the growing imbalances in current urbanisation, the studio will use integral thinking thereby addressing environmental, social, and economic impacts of development. Given the growing population on the given available land in India, it is urgent that new models be found for compact cities with a greater sense of community. The need of the hour is to design self-reliant urban communities where people can live together in a relatively small area and yet find the diversity and all the useful services that can be accessed by foot. Built environments would primarily be built out of local materials and local skills improving thereby local economy, while reducing the environmental impact. It can be imagined that such settlements would manage water and waste water integrally and efficiently where water thus saved can be directed to growing food within the urban areas; that renewable sources of energy can reduce reliance on fossil fuels and perhaps the urban areas can be generators of energy; that air quality would improve through keeping motorized vehicles at bay, while achieving silent and healthy environments where residents feel nurtured, happier, healthier, and more peaceful.
Excursion: A five-day trip to Copenhagen will include visits to Cohousing projects from 50 years ago during the inception, to contemporary examples such as 8 House, Mountain, VM Houses, Tietgen Dormitory, Christiania or Bellavista housing estate, designed by Arne Jacobsen, 1934. Copenhagen is considered to be among the world’s most liveable cities and one where collective governance and new mobility, also innovative economic strategies, have taken root.
Auroville’s Chief Architect, Roger Anger (1923-2008), was one of the most prolific French architects of the 50s and 60s. Sculptural plasticity and individualized timeless modernity identify his unique architectural language. This is amply demonstrated by the more than 100 housing projects designed by his office in Paris alone. His three 28-storey housing towers in Grenoble, the highest residential buildings in Europe at the time, and recipient of the Belgian Premier Prix International d’Architecture in 1967, remain today as an icon of the city and a spectacular example of his work. In 1965, Roger Anger was appointed the Chief Architect of Auroville, a laboratory city, calling for visionary planning, the site where in the last decades the essence of his work as an architect, painter, and sculptor was concentrated.
The architecture of his early housing projects in Paris demonstrates a reaction against what he called the ‘dictatorship of the curtain wall’ and an overemphasis on functionalism and standardization that marked the architecture of that time. Questioning the over-simplification of modernist principles, his office devised strategies to counter the monotony and loss of human scale in the built environment.