Last updated: 25 May, 2022

CBERD Research Project (2012-2017)

Under Indo-US Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center, CSR is part of a consortia headed by CEPT University on the Indian side and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) from US side. CSR will focus and support the area of Building Energy Efficiency and provide experts for low embodied energy material and construction technology under the Passive Design Task. Its particular focus is on Naturally Ventilated Buildings and the strategies employed. For the project CSR is collaborating with architect Mona Doctor-Pingel.

CSR was started in 1984 and functions as a research trust under the Auroville Foundation, a legal autonomous body corporate enacted by a special act of Indian Parliament. Its research focus is on innovative applied research in Design, Energy and Water. The organisation has an international staff of 15 full-time qualified persons supported by a work force.

Sustainable Design

CSR collaborates with various architects and researchers in the field of sustainable design. Auroville Design Consultants, Auroville Building Center, Studio Naqshbandi, Auroville Earth Institute and Solagni have been involved in such projects at various times.

Some of these projects are known for their innovative use of local materials and technologies, climatically conscious response to the hot-humid zone and an indoor-outdoor relationship that harmonizes with the natural elements supporting a lifestyle that is sustainable. An integrated efficient water and energy management is the starting point of site planning.

Another pioneering effort has led to a 25 year expertise in ferrocement technology. A wide range of ferrocement products have been developed, among them prefabricated roof channels, doors, water tanks, toilets, Dewats modules etc.

Renewable energy

CSR executes research projects and implementations in the following technologies: biogas, wind pumps, wind generators, solar cookers, solar lanterns, solar street lights, solar dryers, solar water heaters, solar concentrators, solar bowl, battery operated vehicles, solar absorption cooling systems. Products are marketed under Aurore Systems and Aurore Projects and Services.

Major projects include:

* Prefabricated ferrocement biogas plants of floating drum. CSR-Aurore is the sole supplier for these biogas plants to the Andaman and Nicobar islands since more than 15 years.

* R&D and implementation of a fixed spherical solar concentrator installed at Auroville's Solar Kitchen. The ferrocement support base of this stationary bowl is 15 meters in diameter and 7 meters above ground level. The sun's rays, trapped by a huge hemispherical mirror, focus on a cylindrical boiler which follows the sun's position by means of a computerised tracking device. On a clear day, sufficient steam at a temperature of 150°C can be generated in this boiler to cook two meals a day for 1,000 people. The system is fully automatic and hybridized in order to produce steam regardless of the cloud cover.

* Development and implementation of more than 1600 solar photovoltaic water pumps have been undertaken throughout India.

* Manufacturing of a 8-metre diameter solar parabolic concentrator equipped with a 10 kW Stirling Engine. This system was designed in Germany and installed at Vellore Engineering College in Tamil Nadu.

* Marketing of improved EVT solar water heater systems

* R&D for solar thermal power generation

* R&D for solar street light, LED lamps and maintenance free battery


* R&D and manufacturing of battery operated 2 wheelers, EV-Future

Water and Sanitation

The main emphasis is on establishing a sustainable water resource management within the bioregion. Around 5000 bore wells are connected to a data base for yearly observations on the water table fluctuations. Hydro geological studies for mapping the coastal watershed and aquifers have been generated with input from several national organisations and international universities.

Decentralised waste water treatment systems (Dewats) have been researched and implemented by Csr within Auroville for the last 20 years. At present the technology is increasingly shared and implemented with national and international organisations and companies.

  • CSR Dewats has implemented more than 100 systems. Treatment sizes are ranging from 1 m³ for individual households, to larger plants of up to 800 m³ for communities resorts and companies. ITC has implemented 3 such treatment plants in Nepal and Pune. The latest innovation is the use of a vortex system, which eliminates the planted filter in a natural decentralised waste water treatment system.
  • 17 water and sanitation projects with prefabricated ferrocement modules for public toilet complexes and individual houses have been implemented in the coastal affected tsunami villages with support from USAid and other international organisations.
  • Water audits have been done for several organisations and companies, ITC Ltd among them.

Knowledge sharing

Auroville Institute for Design Energy Water (DEW) operates under CSR and addresses the increasing number of requests for internships and knowledge sharing in the three core areas of Design (architecture, planning and product design); Energy (wind, biogas, solar water heating, solar PV devices, solar thermal, alternative motors and vehicles) and Water (water resources management for the bioregion, waste water treatment systems) developed and implemented within the Auroville community.

Projects and collaborations under DEW institute explore innovations in sustainable technologies; with concepts leading to product research, development, testing, prototyping and commercialization.

Dew institute aims to offer its interns the possibility of exploring a wider vista both in terms of their subjects and their interaction with the surrounding world-scape through the vehicle of a stay in the international community of Auroville. The end objective of every DEW program is not only to develop sustainable technologies but also to inspire a sustainable living. 


Among the major awards that CSR received are the Hassan Fathi International Award for Architecture for the Poor (1992) and the Green Oscar Award for renewable energy, also known as the Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy in UK (2004).

Auroville Centre for Scientific Research
Auroville 605101
+91 413 2622168 / 277 / 748  (CSR/CBERD–Lead Researcher)


Mona Doctor-Pingel (Studio Naqshbandi) CSR/CBERD Lead Researcheris an architect based in Auroville since 1995. She studied architecture at the Center for Environment and Planning (CEPT), Ahmedabad (1984 -90), and has a master’s degree in Appropriate Technology from Flensburg University, Germany (1992-94), with DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) scholarship.

She has an independent set-up where she experiments with sustainable building technologies using local materials and craftsmen with a stress on client interaction. One of the key guiding principles in her work is the creation of buildings which are healthy (sick building syndrome) taking into account factors like electromagnetic fields, use of natural materials and earth energies. Use of Solar PV for lighting, reuse of recycled waste water, rainwater harvesting, interior designs using local and renewable resources, etc are an integral part of architecture for her.

The inside-outside relationship forms an important part of her practice since buildings are not to be seen in isolation but as a whole with the surroundings. Designing landscapes with indigenous plants which use minimum watering, creating a micro climate with water bodies and vegetation, all of which goes to stimulate the five senses of the human being are then considerations which are integrated from the beginning of any project. Her project, Yantra, got a special mention in the Landscape Design category in the A+D & spectrum Foundation Architecture Awards,2004.

She has also been joint-secretary of the Planning Team at L’Avenir d’Auroville/ Town Development Council, which is the official body for guiding the development and planning of Auroville.

She has written on the architectural practices of Auroville for journals and other publications, such as ”Buildings can cause sickness”, Down To Earth, Oct 2004, “Building for Health”, Inside Outside, Aug 2006 and regularly contributes to the German magazine, “Wohnung und Gesundheit” ( house and health ). 

Before a few years she has initiated a series of Monographs on Auroville Architects. She is the author of the first of these 3 monographs on the pioneering architects: POPPO PINGEL, which has been published internationally by Mapin Publishing house in 2012.