Plan & Design
The township boundary, in the form of a circle of 1.55 mile (2.5 km) radius, is comprised of three concentric circles: the outer for greenbelt; inner for city; and a center. The greenbelt functions as a fertile zone for applied research in the sectors of organic food production, forestry, soil conservation, water management, waste management, alternative energy, village outreach programs and other areas essential for sustainable development.
A French architect, Roger Anger, developed the model for the future City of Auroville to serve as the container for its activities. The town plan layout seen from above looks like a spiral galaxy with four radiating sectors (the international, cultural, industrial, and residential zones) leading out to a surrounding greenbelt. These four sectors are focused on the Matrimandir, a globe-like structure that is the geographical heart and soul of the township.
Planning evolves in three stages:
- Master Plan – Incorporates long-term planning policies and general structure of land use, transportation and scale of amenities (proposed by Auroville and approved by Indian government);
- Development Plan – Presents current grounded realities in detail with data, information and collaboration from the community; and
- Annual Plan (Implementation Plan) – Conceived within the framework of the Development Plan, this plan contains the details of new and ongoing projects to be implemented during the financial year.
Auroville’s town planning and development research organization, L’Avenir (Town Development Council), addresses urban design, planning, architecture, topography, mapping, GIS, model making, infrastructure, data bank, etc. Under its umbrella falls everything concerning the conceptual planning, design, architecture and execution of the physical township and its surroundings in terms of the galaxy concept and Master Plan. It encompasses environmental matters, integration of services and infrastructure, non-polluting traffic, water harvesting and conservation, cultural heritage conservation, interaction with organic farming and afforestation projects, as well as integration of villages and regional development needs.
Auroville’s Master Plan includes a surrounding greenbelt that is a critical for the overall functioning of the community and is a critical component for engaging regenerative design practice. The greenbelt is an eco-research laboratory supporting sustainable and integral development. Land use is designed to promote biodiversity enhancement, environmental management, land regeneration and water management with three main categories of uses, agriculture and farming, forest and land regeneration and recreation. Greenbelt process, methods, and know how are disseminated in technology transfer for wider application across India and the world.
Annapurna farm is the first certified organic dairy farm in South India and at 135 acres is Auroville’s largest farm. It’s mainly heavy black clay soil produces field crops, fruits and dairy products. The farm`s granary processes grains, grain seed from legumes, and oilseeds. Annapurna’s dairy, consisting of a crossbred of indigenous cows, serves as a demonstration site for Indian dairy farmers through the (full name please - SLI) program. Farmers are exposed to a structured dairy management system (breeding techniques, feeding methods, management practices), as well as to milk processing, and regularly hosts school children from across the region to expose them to organic food production.
Kamataru Wilderness Sanctuary
Kamataru Wilderness Sanctuary of Auroville is developing from present 12 acres, to 200 acres of wilderness sanctuary, non-irrigated seed orchard and arboretum with an abundance of fruit-bearing trees for fauna and natural vectors. The sanctuary is a safe refuge for (original fauna) wild animals such as the monitor lizard, the barking dear, jackals, snakes, rodents, birds of prey, the jungle cat, the pangolin and other animals. Kamataru is a step towards protecting northern greenbelt lands from illegal pebble mining that impacts vital water recharge areas.
Pebble Garden Seedsavers
Pebble Garden Seedsavers, with Bernard Leclerq and Deepika Kundaji, well known in India is a vibrant indigenous forest with returning wildlife, a productive bio-diverse garden and a fledgling fruit tree area regenerated from severely eroded, barren land in the west of Auroville. A garden area of a quarter acre is devoted to seed conservation created by an intensive process of soil building, using select pioneer species. Today the garden holds a plant collection of more than 100 endangered traditional vegetable varieties from all over India - root crops, herbs, perennial and wild food crops, medicinal plants and flowers. Pebble Garden also has a charcoal/wood vinegar production plant, and conducts research on in terra preta. A place of continuous learning, methods are shared with home gardeners and subsistence farmers throughout India, and with organic farmers’ collectives via organic fairs and seed melas.
Auroville’s Botanical Garden
Auroville’s Botanical Garden contains more 2400 plant species, over 300 tree and shrub species of TDEF planted in a 25-acre arboretum, 5,500 specimens planted in the 10-acre conservation forest, and a TDEF plant nursery capable of producing 50,000 seedlings per year to promote the re-introduction of the indigenous flora o and women groups and f the region. There are 9 themed gardens and an educational center that receives yearly more then 4500 visitors from schools, teachers, teacher trainings, and women’s groups, a garden shop and botanical consultancy service.
Pitchandikulam Forest is a 70-acre sanctuary dedicated to community and environmental initiatives. The forest is home to a rich and diverse forest ecosystem and a research and education center that cooperates with 27 village initiatives in the bioregion. Pitchandikulam takes a holistic approach to environmental conservation, with over 40 years of experience in landscape restoration and reforestation, environmental education, community development and eco- art work., and is a restoration site of the Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest, one of the rarest ecosystems in India.
Siddharta Farm is situated on traditional rice land close to Irumbai lake. The farm grows different varieties of rice, sugarcane and black gram in rotation with green gram, peanuts, sesame, millets and pulses, as well as dairy and poultry, a bakery and a small food-processing unit, using biogas. The water is sustainably used with a solar pump for irrigating cultivated areas and lake water for use in the paddy fields its 90% water directly from the lake. The farm is cooperating with Sli, which is in close proximity. The wetland in Irumbai are is one of the few highly fertile agricultural lands within Auroville masterplan area, and funds would enable to extent the farm by 15 acres, directly accessing the monsoon fed Irumbai lake for natural irrigation.
Solitude Farm is an abundant 5 acres of food crops, both wild and cultivated, fruit and forest community. The vision of the farm is to reconnect people with their food source akin to local farm to home and farm to restaurant movement. They conduct trainings and provide internships in permaculture and natural farming, and have been instrumental in setting up food gardens in Auroville and the local villages. Solitude also operates a café featuring only their farm produce, delivers farm baskets, and hosts workshops and music events bringing wider attention to farm production methods.