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D o m i n i c

- in conversation with Julietta

"At the beginning there is nothing. And then, only by touching the matter, the earth and the materials, by being part of it as a mason, you put a little of yourself in the matter. You share your consciousness into matter," says Dominic. "An architect cannot 'not touch'. I did everything: welding, plumbing, cutting glass, mason work etc etc. A mere watching the drawings becoming reality is not enough."

Dominic is an allrounder, who rolls his sleeves up and jumps head over heels directly into the mud (and matter).. Let's join him on his long journey into consciousness.

Architect cum painter in Rome

"I have always been a tramp. After getting my Bachelor of Architecture in Montreal, Canada in 1980, my then wife and I left for Rome. I was attracted by Italy and its ancient architecture, opened an office and taught in the School of Rome. But working and teaching just wasn't enough. Having studied visual arts as well, I held exhibitions as a painter, working six months as an architect and six as a painter. Also during my travels the sales of my paintings made me survive," recalls Dominic about his early days.

Canada

Back in Canada, he opened a small office with three of his colleagues. During the next ten years he never stopped traveling which lead him to Greece, Iraq, Japan and Thailand, but never to India. Still, even while in Canada, he was aware of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, getting information from the local Auroville International center there. In 1994, Dominic was invited by BalaKrishna Doshi, one of the most renown architects in India, to work as senior architect on a Rs 1 crore building. Dominic set his feet for the first time onto India's holy grounds..

Coming home

"India - it was love at first sight. I helped opening the Sri Aurobindo Centre in Ahmedabad and came to Pondicherry for Golconde. When I came to Auroville in 1996, I knew I had arrived, and after twenty years of traveling I finally settled down.

Now, six years later in 2002, I still don't have my own place in Auroville. I don't know in how many beds I slept. I don't need a house, I just need a place to sleep. My own house was never built because of traveling. Back in Montreal, we had bought an old, antique house, tore everything down and remodeled it. I left it to my wife, who did not come to Auroville with me. That seems to be my Karma. Something is helping me to be detached. I try to have an apartment in Reve II though.."

Dream and reality

Reve started as a project for low-cost housing. But dreams can turn into nightmares. Various difficulties led to the resigning of Dominic's team, and Reve was renamed Courage. Fortunately, nightmares also end in the morning and a brand new day brought Reve II, second phase of the project. "It's a cost effective project, not very deluxe, but simple, basic. We can meet the price. 18 apartments are under construction, and our office Brand New Day provides the drawings," tells Dominic, leading up to one of his other projects.

Line of Force

"The Line of Force, intrinsic part of Auroville's Galaxy model, is the opposite of Reve in a way. This project is Roger Anger's. When I joined Auroville, I quickly became involved in Auroville's Future, the main planning centre for the Auroville Township. I had freshly arrived with my biodata, photo book etc, and expectations were high. "Oh wow, a real professional, maybe you are the one to do it..," I heard people whisper.

Roger Anger asked me to help with his Line of Force, and I started to do models, but it turned out that my aesthetic approach had nothing to do with his. To make a long story short: I was supposed to occupy an apartment in the first section of the first Line of Force, but it never worked out.."

Concept of emptiness

"In terms of philosophy, a drop of what I am looking for is there in buildings such as Inge's house in Kottakarai, or Golconde in Pondy.. I call it anti-decoration. The space I'm looking for is not allowing any decoration. When you live in a nearly empty space, your inner work starts, not distracted by paintings, curtains or furniture. The space by itself is extremely strong. Some people may call it chicken boxes, I call it Zen architecture. I admire Tadao Ando, the great Japanese architect. His concept: simple, nothing, empty. And Le Corbusier, the biggest, revolutionary architect of the 20th century.., I studied him for fifteen years... All my buildings are based on his ideas of proportions, directions and mathematic formulas."

Everything counts

"Give your love to concrete, and it changes. For me, mud and concrete are exactly the same thing. Golconde is concrete. Mother was there, so her consciousness is there. That's the most important aspect..", concludes Dominic and rides on, on this long and winding road.

 

Dominic left Auroville in 2004.

 

 

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