Realization Community

Architecture by: Auroville Earth Institute
Type of building use: Residential
Year of completion:
Built-up area:
1110 m2
Plot size: 7796 m2
Location: Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India
Climatic Zone:
Tropical zone
Actual Occupancy:
25 inhabitants in 17 apartments
Appropriate architecture design
  • Prevailing wind direction was used to orient the building to have enough draft in the humid climate of Auroville.
  • Double height spaces were used in bigger units to allow for air and light movement in the house.
  • The natural slope on the site was utilized in designing services to minimize labor and cost of trench digging.
  • Existing vegetation on site was respected.
Environmentally sound materials
  • Earth as the primary building material: stabilized rammed earth foundations, compressed stabilized earth blocks for walls, vaults and domes, stabilized earth plaster for walls exposed to rain and sun and stabilized earth mortar.
  • Arches, vaults and dome construction is a skill based process that eliminates the use of reinforced concrete cement slabs and rammed earth foundations eliminate the need for concrete footings.
  • Precast ferrocement elements to save on steel and cement: ferrocement roofing channels, precast sills and planters, precast gutters for springer beams.
  • Employing the local skilled labor for doors, windows and other finishes over buying readymade items with high embodied energy.
  • The wood used for doors and windows came from trees destroyed after the 2004 tsunami.
Renewable energy sources
  • An Earth Cooling Tunnel was built. A fan pushes hot air in a pipe which runs about 5 m deep and 35 m underground: first 15 m long at the bottom of the rainwater harvesting tank and then 20 meter in the ground. The system cools the air by heat exchange which is blown into residential units.
Water management
  • Roof rainwater is harvested in an underground water tank and reused for gardening and to cool the air for the Earth Cooling Tunnel.
  • Surface rainwater is harvested in a percolation pit in order to recharge the water table.
Earth management
  • The soil dug from the rainwater harvesting tank was used to make stabilized earth blocks for the building.
The Auroville Earth Institute links the ancestral tradition of raw earth architecture with the modern technology of stabilized earth.
Stabilized raw earth can be used as a building material from foundations to roof.
Building with earth is an efficient way to use local resources, revive the local skills and the building tradition. The role of the architect is also essential in this process as he should be at the service of the society and its people. The architect should not be only a designer but also a builder and he should be able to build with people so as to give them the means to build their own habitat themselves.
Types of services offered. (Architecture, Structural, Services, Project Management, Contracting, Green Rating Facilitation, Energy Performance Simulation, Energy Audit…)
Architectural consultancy: the architect team of the Auroville Earth Institute can design and prepare detailed plans for anyone wishing to build their house using Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks (CSEB). The Auroville Earth Institute is an architecture firm that manages projects from the conception stage to their construction. The institute has received 2 international prizes and 11 Indian prizes.
Training: The Auroville Earth Institute regularly organizes two weeks long training courses. They are open to all engineers, architects, technicians, masons and students who wish to learn how to produce and build with Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB) and other earth techniques. Specialized training courses in the analysis and construction of arches, vaults and domes are also offered. These construction techniques are an alternative to the use of reinforced concrete.
Research: Since the very onset the Auroville Earth Institute has conducted researches on various stabilised earth technologies and developed composite techniques made of CSEB and reinforced cement concrete. Since 1995, the Institute has developed a construction technique for disaster resistance with hollow interlocking CSEB. This technology has been approved by 3 governments.
Technology transfer: the Institute is frequently called upon to conduct consultancies to disseminate earth architecture and technologies. Our team worked in 32 countries all over the world.
Soil testing: we provide soil testing for those interested in building with earth.
Block testing: test of blocks with a compression test machine. Both dry compressive strength and wet compressive strength are available. By following a strict procedure we are able to give reliable results.
CSEB order: production of Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB) for the Auroville area.
Auram equipment: A wide range of earth construction equipment has been researched and developed and is sold today worldwide. This equipment is manufactured by the workshop Aureka.
Actual Energy Performance Index in: data not available
Percentage of A/C and non A/C regularly occupied spaces: No AC
Owner / User Testimony: None
Awards / Green Rating / Energy : Data not available yet
Architecture by: Auroville Earth Institute
Structural Design by: Auroville Earth Institute
Services Design by: Auroville Earth Institute
Project management: Auroville Earth Institute
Contractor: Auroville Earth Institute
Name of the Architectural Practice:
Auroville Earth Institute
Realization architects: Satprem Maïni, Meera Prajati, Susan Georges, Tesia Walsky, Neelakshi Joshi
Photo of the Architect / Partners
Address: Auroville Earth Institute
Auroville 605 101 T.N.India
Tel: +91 (0) 413 – 262 3330 / 262 3064 Fax: +91 (0) 413 – 262 2886
Email: Not Available
External Links