In this project we are aiming to explore a new living/working environment within the context of the Residential Zone, utilising a number of ideas which have come up in the dreamcatcher forum.
First amongst these is the concept of raising the residential areas off the ground, whilst dedicating the ground floor to offices, studios and common facilities. This will assure a high degree of privacy for all the residents, avoid the need to build fences and water-intensive gardens, and help nurture an Auroville that 'belongs to no-one in particular' since people are then free to walk wherever they choose.
Nadja has also been working with Bernard (a frequent visitor to Auroville and a feng-shui professional from Switzerland) and Jean-Francois from Pitchandikulam (who has been working since some time on the ley-lines of Auroville), to improve and enhance the energetic foundation of the project.Combining the principles of 'voluntary simplicity' with the essence of 'A temple for living and working in', we aim to create simple, rich and beautiful spaces for a daily life in which the growth of consciousness is the main focus - the emphasis clearly being on quality not quantity. To this end the individual rooms are not especially vast but are
The acoustic, climatic and environmental aspects of the project have also been at the forefront of the decision-making process and have strongly influenced the design.
Acoustically, all the apartments are separated from each other and from the staircases by cavity walls built of dense fly-ash blocks, which not only helps to lower sound transmission but also provides ducts for the various pipes and cables. The staircases themselves are built as free-standing elements unconnected to the main walls, and the north side of the apartments (facing away from the green corridor) are equipped with vertical acoustic louvres which can be closed either in case of monsoon rain (which usually approaches from the north-east) or in case of noisy activities either inside or outside the space.
Climatically, the building has been oriented to make the most of the natural breeze in the summer months, where full-height sliding doors of mesh and/or glass can be opened to maximise the wind. In the morning and the evening hours the cavity walls to the east and west also minimise heat transfer from the sun, and the main roof will have gardens which have similar insulating properties.
From the point of view of water conservation, each apartment has a metered hook-up to the main RZ water tank, and the chlorine in this water will be removed by carbon filters as it enters the building. All the waste-water will be fully treated and then be re-utilised for both flushing the toilets as well as watering the planters on the balconies on the south side of the building. We also wish to experiment with catching the rain-water in a surface-level aquifer. If this works according to plan this option could provide each resident with up to 100 litres of fresh water daily throughout the year.
Although a TNEB connection is foreseen for each space, there will also be the possibility of connecting to photovoltaic panels for electricity and thermal panels for hot water. Another option is to hook-up to one of three de-humidification systems which will be built above each staircase and which will provide relatively cheap, dry air through the cavity walls to each studio and apartment.
The roof itself is to be seen as an extension of the community - with the provision of laundry/drying areas and meeting spaces under the photovoltaic panels, and a roof garden at each end of the building. Both the roof gardens and the surrounding landscape will have a focus on TDEF (Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest) species, and finally there is even the idea to make a start with roof-top agriculture, by dedicating an area to grow enough spirulina for everyone in the building...