Building bridges through
A personal reporting by Peter
Anderschitz on the International Forum of Young Architects (IFYA)
with focus on Auroville's International Zone. This annual international
design forum took place in Auroville under the label of 'Inner Architecture'
from Sept. 15th until 29th 2002.
Why they came..?
Why they all came together - with a lot of effort
from both the participants and the organisers - and for a rather unknown
adventure? Those young professional architects from far away: from Vietnam,
Germany, USA; as well as those young architecture students from India
and Europe who by joining unexpectedly added even more spice to the learning
They came to learn from each other and from this richly
inspiring environment called Auroville, which is a City with a Vision,
yes, but also a place and a people just beginning to learn how to become
citizens - of a new world.. They came to learn, and it turned out that
everybody, participants and organisers, became student during these two
An other dimension to architecture
Naturally, the intention and the topic of the forum
'Inner Architecture', was the signal and call to look for another dimension
to architecture, and urban and environmental design, with another intention,
another way of action. Focusing the work on Auroville's International
Zone, which only recently got another push by the AVI
Centres expressing the need for a more dynamic communication and interaction
of Auroville in the world at large, the forum provided the collective
flesh to the topic: how to leave room, or create space, for the soul-aspect
of nation-cultures to be expressed, to become an essential part of the
City's inner platform for the realisation of human unity in diversity?
Lively Auroville scenario
Having said all that, the IFYA event then became indeed
a living example of an ideal Auroville scenario: a creative exchange and
interaction between all participants with most diverse backgrounds in
an atmosphere of non-competitiveness and sharing.
And of course, the two-week seminar could take advantage
from the best that Auroville has to offer: the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture
providing the workplace, excursions touching Auroville's ground realities
and life experiences, informal lectures and exercises as introduction
to the topic, interviews and presentations by 'core' Aurovilians pertaining
to the issue, a workshop experiencing the 'Architecture of the Body',
and very positive response and support by those Auroville working groups
and individuals which are particularly involved with the development of
the International Zone.
Let's have a look at what happened
These two weeks, enhanced by Auroville's pulsating
energy field, provided a time-slot with an intense mixture of parallel
and exiting use of astonishingly different working tools and media of
expression, from hi-tech to ground-stuff; interwoven with Tibetan chants,
the heat, the power cuts -or ego cuts- into the flow of energy; at times
the pressing need for inspiring guidance; an opening up inner and outer
spaces so as to concentrate, share, meditate...
Surprisingly, six of the seven individual design proposals
eventually developed a common 'attitude', coming very close to merging
into one single concept including the following features:
Respect for the land and for the original vision
of Auroville's Galaxy town plan as a potentially powerful formation.
Adopting the concept of a free positioning of
national-cultural pavilions, supported by an understanding of Sri
Aurobindo's 'ideal of the free grouping of mankind' as a guiding principle
- where deeper affinities can emerge to get then formulated in the
process of positioning. For this to happen, interesting variations
were proposed in regard to integrating the various 'pavilions': One
option saw a transportation loop connecting all pavilions in an open
landscaped park, and the other worked through a flow of spaces covered
by landscaped roofs under which each 'pavilion' can find its proper
place, while all together comprise a peaceful valley, open towards
Other approaches concentrated rather on intuitive
methods for planning, on development processes and growth-patterns: suggesting
concentrated development in a unifying way along the educational 'focal-points',
in order for the pavilions to reach out from there.
'Inner Architecture' means first of all an attitude
to build from within, from an inner source. From that space, a good spirit
of working together emerged, producing fresh insights into the challenging
work of developing the International Zone. Vice versa, the participants
carried some of that spirit back to their home countries.
However, and sadly enough, from Auroville's many
architects only a few expressed interest. Were they too busy with 'reality',
is 'envisioning the City of the Future' nowadays neither reasonable nor
And couldn't an exercise like this be seen as one
of many more to come, a living part of an international school of architecture
to come? Not only about producing, but also about inducing results?