Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Matrimandir/ Auroville by Roger Anger

Photo by theflame

Auroville is a universal township 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 Matrimandir/ Auroville
Design Team: Roger Anger
Location: Tamil Nadu, India
When to visit: Weekdays- 10 am to 1 pm, 2 pm to 4.30 pm, Sundays- 10 am to 1 pm only. Access to Auroville and Matrimandir is free of charge.

Auroville is a planned universal township for up to 50,000 people under development in south east India. 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 its centre, next to the great Banyan tree, there is an enormous golden ball called Matrimandir, in Sanskrit, means "Temple of the Divine Mother".

It was the brainchild of Mirra Alfassa, a French citizen of Ottoman-Egyptian origin, known in Auroville simply as 'The Mother'. The man charged with building that city was a French architect and urban planner called Roger Anger. A futurist and part of the Parisian avant-garde scene, he was best known for building what was at the time the tallest residential complex in Europe, the 98m-high Ile Verte in Grenoble.

Photo by dharmasphere
Photo by theflame

In close coordination with The Mother, Anger drew up the master plan for a galaxy-shaped city. It was divided into four sectors that spiraled outwards from a central Peace Zone, in the middle of which stood the Matrimandir. Matrimandir’s inner chamber is the conceptualization of Mother’s vision. She actually visualized each and every dimension of this structure .The globe structure as a whole was designed by Architect Roger Anger.

Suspended several metres above a lotus pool on four massive supports, the 36m-diameter Matrimandir or Temple of the Mother, is a giant geodesic sphere. Its outer surface is covered in huge, gold mosaic-clad concave discs, a little like inverted frisbecs. Its inner surface is covered in an opaque fabric that tints the light filtering into the cavernous interior with a warm orange glow.

At the end of the two slender glass and white marble ramps that spiral 20m high in the interior of the sphere, there is a room. Inside it, 12 white marble columns emerge from plush white carpet, but they do not support the ceiling. In the centre of the ceiling there is an opening, through which a beam of white light shines down into a perfectly spherical, 70cm Zeiss crystal ball placed in the centre of the room. The light illuminates the ball, capturing the images of the people sitting around the room cross-legged. It then passes through an aperture beneath it. through the cavernous space below and out of the base of the sphere, where the reflection bounces off the lotus pool beneath.

Photo by dharmasphere
Photo by dharmasphere

Surrounding the sphere are 12 red sandstone 'petals' containing 12 egg-shaped, windowless meditation chambers, painted in 12 vibrant colours. A white marble platform is suspended in the middle of the chamber. There are small round white cushions on the floor. A light on the wall facing the platform serves as a focus. The space is secular. There are no statues, images or mantras.

The Matrimandir is the psychic heart of Auroville. From above, it resembles a giant bud. Viewed from the ground, its sandstone chambers closely resemble stylized clods of earth, pushed up by the sphere as it exits the earth. From here, the Matrimandir seems a shining new world, captured in the process of being born.

Auroville by Roger Anger
Auroville by Roger Anger

Photo credits: theflame | dharmasphere
via Auroville