Visitors Centre Complex

Auroville's Reception and Information Centre

The Auroville Visitors Centre, which was constructed in 1991 with grants and other help from HUDCO, Ministry for Non Conventional Energy Sources, Indian Navy, United Nations Centre for Human Settlement. Commission of the European Union (via BORDA), German Appropriate Technology Exchange, Stichting De Zaair, and Foundation for World Education, is Auroville's reception and information disseminating centre for the hundreds - often thousands - of tourists and visitors coming to Auroville daily.

Architects: Suhasini Ayer-Guigan & Satprem Maini

Construction Materials

It is a popular and pleasant complex specifically designed for visitors from all over the world, with the local climate, materials and building skills influencing the design. Special emphasis has been placed on natural lighting and ventilation in the building, as renewable energy sources were to be used.

From the outset, the plan for the building was to limit the use of concrete and steel, but this was easier said than done, for in a compression structure the construction of arches, vaults and domes is necessitated.

Prefabricated ferrocement elements were used for all doors and overhangs, thereby doing away with the use of wood. A 4-metre grid using load-bearing pillars and arched or corbelled openings was made with stabilised compressed earth blocks to reduce costs. Solar, wind and biomass energy, water management and recycling techniques, mud and ferrocement technology, and reclamation and afforestation were all integrated in the process, Stabilised earth blocks for domes and prefabricated ferrocement channels were considered as the best solution for roofing. It was felt the resulting sequence of arcaded and semi-covered spaces would give a clear sense of direction to people, while at the same time demonstrating and promoting the rich potential of alternative technologies in its construction, with particular emphasis on the use of mud as a building material.

Wide Range of Facilities

Today the main building comprises a popular multi-cuisine cafeteria at ground level, a nighttime community space cum economical eatery upstairs, 3 boutiques displaying and selling Auroville handicrafts, a bookshop, a guest accommodation service and Matrimandir booking facility with an admin office for the complex, a permanent exhibition on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, and outdoor exhibitions on Auroville's International Zone and environmental issues.

Following the construction of the main. building, in 2004 an exhibition hall was added, with an information desk, exhibition spaces, video auditorium, and more recently an extension devoted to Matrimandir information and video showing, as well as an exhibition highlighting some of Auroville's best practices. The compound also hosts an organic coffee bar, a tea shop and a cycle rental facility.

Contact: 0413-2622239