UNESCO Chair Earthen Architecture

"Auroville wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity."

In 1968, about 5,000 people assembled near the banyan tree at the centre of the future township for an inauguration ceremony attended by representatives of 124 nations, including all the States of India. Built with such a foundation, the lifestyle and energy circumferencing Auroville is different in every aspect.

Representative and resource centre for Asia of the UNESCO Chair "Earthen Architecture, Constructive Cultures and Sustainable Development", Auroville Earth Institute researchers, experiments, creates and educates on how to use soil for earth-based building technology. Enrolled in two courses, Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks (CSEB) and Arches, Vaults and Domes (AVD); the teachings have been focussed on understanding the sustainability of the material and how to build with it. Made from a mix of soil, sand, water; stabilised with 5% cement, and compressed manually or with a hydraulic press; the CSEB is a low-cost, low-carbon modern earth construction technique. At Auroville, all centres for habitat, education, entertainment and recreation are constructed with Earth Blocks.

The CSEB focusses on the understanding of soil characteristics and the calculations to make it suitable for construction. Along with theoretical sessions, we were exposed to hands-on sessions in producing Earth Blocks and Rammed Earth. This allowed us to understand the material better and gain insight on the process - testing of different soil types, stabilising procedure, handling the press, production, labour and cost analysis, quality control and it's economic feasibility.

The AVD covers the learnings of vaulted masonry - typologies, structural principles, building techniques, stability evaluation and elaborate teachings on catenary, funicular and optimisation methods. With demonstration and practical training, we built different types of arches, vaults and domes understanding masonry patterns for each.

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