I had been to this place as a student on a study(?) tour ;-). It amazed me just because i had never been to a place like that before. I couldn’t understand the concept of Matrimandir then. It totally surprised me…shocked me. When we passed the chamber (that time we were not allowed to enter in) that ambiance was astonishing. I couldn’t make out what was happening? Where the light is coming from? Why it is reflected so much? and most of all why this place has been made? I even tried to grasp through some books but no use.
Last month i happened to visit the Matrimandir again along with my husband. And we actually meditated in the chamber. The experience was incredible. This time i understood the reason for its existence.Its a place for trying to find ones consciousness. I will not explain about my own spiritual experience.You have to feel it yourself. But yes definitely i wish to share the architectural part of it.
Matrimandir’s inner chamber is the conceptualization of Mother’s vision. She actually visualized each and every dimension of this structure .The globe structure as a whole was designed by Architect Roger Anger.
This was the site chosen for the structure. One thing to mention here that this was the only green creature on that land that time.Today you can witness a dense vegetation as a result of the conscious efforts of Aurovilians.
There was no contractor appointed to construct this gigantic structure. People from all over the world united there, were working themselves in consortium.
T.K.Santhanam, scientist at Structural Engineering Research Center, Madras calculated its structure.
The Aurovilian architect Piero Cicionesi prepared all working drawings and supervised the project
The principal load carrying members of superstructure are the four pairs of sickle shaped, 38m high reinforced concrete piers. Every other component is supported by these piers.Each pair of pier is 2.1m.The thickness is 40cm. above ground level and varies from 40cm. to 70 cm. below.
The four pairs of ribs as an extension of four pillars, are joined by ring beams at 1st and 2nd levels, chamber floor level and at very top.
This section explains the structural ambiguity.
Prefabricated beams each weighing half a ton, altogether formed the space frame which gave the structure that spherical look.
The outer shell consists of ferrocement triangles (with a hole at heir center to install a porthole) which were prefabricated in the workshop, lifted in place and then grouted.A membrane then applied to the whole surface to waterproof it. But 10 years later it had to be reapplied as it was not adhering to the surface.
To create a translucent inner skin of a color prescribed by Mother (hibiscus flower peach) a very special white fabric made up of fiber glass woven in a sophisticated manner has been stretched over 756 triangular frames. Colored foil of a precise color is placed on the outer shell’s 668 portholes to filter the natural light that enters in through then in day time.At night time the colored light is provided by 1320 electronic modules.
Flattened sphere is covered with some 1400 golden discs to symbolize a radiating golden supra mental sun.1/3rd of the discs are concave and large weighing 210 kg. (dia 2.3m -2.4m), 2/3 rd are convex and smaller (dia 1.3m, 1.4m, 1.5m. and 1.6m).About a 3rd of total discs made of glass reinforced plastic and others are of stainless steel.
One of the two spiral ramps leading up to the chamber
At the center of the room, there is object of concentration upon which falls a single vertical beam of sunlight.This object is a crystal globe, 70cm dia, 400 kg., custom made of optically perfect glass made in Germany by “Scott” and later polished by “Zeiss”. It rests on a cube stand, 35cm side, consisting of 4 upright gilded symbol of Aurobindo that hold each other up by the points of their triangles. This cube stands at the center of the room of 3m diameter symbol of the mother which is engraved in white marble slab.Crystal globe is positioned exactly at the center of the sphere.The mother stressed that the important thing is the play of the sunbeam on the center as that becomes the symbol of “Future Realization”.
Heliostat is used to capture the sun beam. The same sun beam passes through the crystal and finally reached the lotus pond crystal.Below the sphere Architect wanted to build a lotus pond but when he realized that lotus will not bloom in the shade, instead of lotus pond he used 216 petal shaped marble slabs to create a pond over which water flows from outside towards the center.There is a crystal globe 17cm dia at center of pond.There are 12 meditation rooms around the sphere representing 12 human qualities like Sincerity, Humility, Aspiration, Gratitude, Perseverance, Receptivity, Courage, Generosity, Peace, Equality, Progress, Goodness.All rooms have the same shape as that of Matrimandir -a small flattened sphere.All are in 12 different colors as per the quality like.
One sits on a concrete slab clad with marble,which seems to float inside the flattened sphere.The room is air conditioned and there is one translucent oval disc made up of glass reinforced plastic for concentration at eye level. This object is placed in front of small window through which natural light enters in during day time.Auroville artists has designed some geometric patterns on these objects.The Amphitheater’s inner dia is 75m and outer is 98m and 2.2 m deep. Rainwater is evacuated by gravity toward the northwest by a underground pipeline.Three times a year a large bonfire is lit at dawn in middle of Amphitheatre.Aurovillians and well wishers gather for collective meditation.Cultural performances rarely take place.
This is a very good example of Symbolism in Architecture. The concept of human unity and one’s consciousness is well executed as Matrimandir. The path to consciousness is through the realization of the inner self and ultimately that supreme power- the Mother. The Mother here doesn’t mean mother as a person. It means the Supreme Power- Shakti. Shri Aurobindo’s concept of mother also referred to that ultimate power. But over the period of time it has become person specific as a result of misinterpretation of Aurobindo’s Concept. Whereas its still the divine eternal source of energy – omnipresent.