Wednesday, January 11, 2012


A very interesting housing project that has come up in Auroville is the ‘Realization’ housing designed & built by the Auroville Earth Institute & Ar.Satprem. One of the reasons why this project is unique is that it is a group housing that is built up with Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks made locally at the site itself, using the soil dug up for the rainwater harvesting tank. At a time when the entire world is merely paying lip service to ‘sustainability’, the Realization project stands out showing us what true sustainability is. The community is self-sustained, with earth as the primary building material & with energy conservation techniques like Earth cooling tunnels & rainwater harvesting systems being implemented. Moreover, the concept of Realization is unique in itself and as the Realization website ( says,
Realization aims to build sustainable and affordable homes for Auroville with people’s participation. It aspires to contribute actively to the development of Auroville as a conscious community and as a city of never ending education. Hence Realization proposes alternatives ways to answer the present housing demand. The neighbouring villages do not have enough labour for the construction sites of Auroville and it is difficult since a few years to find construction workers to build Auroville. Hence Aurovilians, Newcomers and volunteers need to work with their hands for building Auroville.’

Aims & Objectives -
  • Answer the need of housing: about 70 apartments are planned to be built for around 170 people, over several phases in the next 4 to 5 years. The first phase will have 17 apartments for about 25 people.
  • Share resources to help people with low budget: People give what they can: funds and/or work, so that everyone gets an apartment according to their needs and not according to their financial means.
  • Develop a participative process: Individuals are involved in the elaboration and management of the project. Everybody can contribute physically, mentally and spiritually in a collaborative way for the growth and progress of Auroville as a place of never ending education and in a spirit of Human Unity.
  • Build and live in a sustainable and Eco-friendly manner: Appropriate building technologies and renewable energy sources being used include stabilised earth for the main building material, solar and wind energy, recycling wastewater treatments systems, rainwater harvesting systems on the land and on the roofs, etc.
  • Develop community services: For its future residents as well as for the neighbours.

By November of 2007, the initial studies for the project started & by late 2010, the first phase was completed. The initial phase has around 17 apartments for about 25 people, in 3 blocks of apartments organised around a central plaza where a ‘Realization tree’ has been planted. It is as if the buildings rise up from the very ground on which they stand, the rich red of the soil reflected through the CSEB walls of the buildings.
A very interesting concept implemented in Realization is that of the Earth Cooling Tunnels. These are essentially pipes which run under the ground which are used for cooling the interiors of the apartments. They work on the principle that the temperature of the earth at a depth of more than 3 metres is constant at about 27 degrees and in Realization the pipes run at around 6m through the rainwater harvesting tank and come up to the fan in the surface, the result being that the interior temperatures are brought down considerably. This when combined with the rainwater harvesting system, solar energy, windmills etc. make the Realization project truly sustainable, to the extent that the Embodied energy of the buildings are about one-fourth that of a conventional building.
Building a CSEB vault

Building a CSEB vault

Layout plan

Sections & Elevations

Earth Cooling Tunnel

All images courtesy the Realization website
Do check out the following link for more images -


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  1. I just hope they will paint the exterior walls and roofs with light colors to reflect the sunlight instead of absorbing and storing it in the material. One sees that too often in Auroville and it's difficult to understand why the architects there erect buildings in dark or earthen colors. The external walls of the Town Hall were even originally clad with black granite! They had to tear them off after some time because the inside became unbearably hot. Again: very difficult to understand after decades of living experience in that climate and under that sun radiation :( There are many buildings in Auroville that become unbearably hot inside because the architects didn't take the effects of solar radiation into account.

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