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Review by Madhu Pandit

INSPIRING REFERENCE FOR BEAUTY AND SOCIAL ASPIRATIONS

Pandit INSPIRING REFERENCE FOR BEAUTY AND SOCIAL ASPIRATIONS T his wonderfully exuberant book is the second

T his wonderfully exuberant book is the second of the Auroville Architects Monograph Series. It is

a comprehensive record of the architectural legacy of

Piero and Gloria Cicionesi and the timeless imprint

it has left on Auroville. More than that, what is com-

pelling is the weaving together of the community’s unwavering belief that built form is on extension of an individual’s physical and spiritual world.

I visited Auroville as a student in 1979 when the

Matrimandir had just about ‘burst forth’ out of the ground. Its skeletal space frame looked staggeringly out of scale, and perhaps even brutal, to my inexpe- rienced eye, especially in the context of the philoso-

phy communicated to us and the pastoral/communal scale of the rest of what was built at that time. Since then I have been training my eye and time and again

I have wanted to visit, but it was not meant to be. I

was curious to put together the puzzle how the sheer muscle of that giant sphere, now softened by its gold

exterior, sat in consonance with its structural spatiality and function. Going through this book comes close to the journey which never happened.

The reader can switch back and forth between pages which are beautifully illustrated, and watch the ‘urban experiment’ take shape. One does not have to endorse the philosophy of a ‘new consciousness’ to find the symbolism of Matrimandir, a centring point of a city in a modern-day context of town planning, curiously compelling.

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book review | AuROvILLE ARcHItEctS MONOGRApH SERIES pieRo AND gloRiA CiCioNesi Author Mona Doctor pingel Published

AuROvILLE ARcHItEctS MONOGRApH SERIES

pieRo AND gloRiA CiCioNesi

Author Mona Doctor pingel Published by Mapin publishing pvt. ltd., 2018 Size 229 x 229 mm 204 pages ISBN 978-93-85360-41-1

‘Piero was one of the few who knew at that time about the relationship of ’

writes Doc-

tor Pingel. Well, that is definitely some food for thought for those of us who seek answers for universal harmony versus spatial order. She describes the trials and tribulations the pioneers faced when ‘they came to the barren red plateau and had the conviction to follow a dream, who gave their youth to make it what it is today, a green haven with opportunities for all.’ Their jour- neys would not always have been with unflinching confidence.

proportions between the Great Pyramid and the Matrimandir

The story of the Matrimandir is a significant part of this book, since it signi- fies Piero’s role in the history of Auroville—he was given the task to execute its physical and spiritual centre when he was just thirty-six years old. But the main narrative belongs to the architects’ personal journeys, from their early years in Europe, their arrival in Auroville in 1968 and the decades of evolu- tion of their work. Their story is told through an astounding collection of archival photographs, personal sketches, beautiful drawings, several quotes and references to other architectural works.

sketches, beautiful drawings, several quotes and references to other architectural works. 55 | 2018 landscape 111

55 | 2018

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book review | It is interesting to see this book bring together the architecture of a
book review | It is interesting to see this book bring together the architecture of a

It is interesting to see this book bring together the architecture of a commune through their work. The collection does not follow any categorization of typologies, nor does the work look very experimental like much of Auroville does. It is best described by Poppo Pin- gel — ‘There is something inexplicable perceived via the subtlety of the senses in the spa-

tial order of Piero and Gloria’s buildings. This something I try to circumscribe but cannot

the parameters of the space are not verifiable. They are set in simply, like cups

describe

in a cupboard: clear, precise and final, with no discussion required. They fulfil simple inner needs of the human being, wellbeing, lightness, the sense to spend time in it, and timeless

where mind stands still.’

The book is full of inspiring references for those who seek perfection and beauty along with deeper social aspirations.

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for those who seek perfection and beauty along with deeper social aspirations. 1 1 2 landscape