Factory and workshop for Auroville, India
In collaboration with Ahaladini Sridharan, Abhishek Patel, and Abhijeet Manjunath.
SVARAM is a manufacturer and educator of traditional and experimental musical instruments in Auroville, India (a unique, off-the-grid community started as an international commune in the 1960s). This design is one-third of a new campus SVARAM has planned for production, administration, and exhibition. It serves not only as the primary manufacturing space for their instruments, but also connects the visitor experience to actual production, and houses the sites water treatment facilities.
Designed during a one-week site-immersive charette, the structure was first developed in section, in order to control noise pollution produced within the open-air building. Although the section is performance-driven, the overall form makes use of several formal maneuvers.
On both elevations, a strong, low horizontal element provides the base for a more playful roof. On the front, a rammed-earth wall runs the duration of the site. At just over eye level, the wall blocks most sound and views into the workshop—meanwhile three punctures allow visitors to peek into and partially enter the work areas on elevated pathways. This wall is an ever-present element, wrapping the staff and delivery entrance on one side of the building, defining the front elevation, and then pushing back to again form a compound wall on the opposite side. On the back elevation, the wall has been replaced by an earthen berm, also designed to control noise while adding a view to greenery and a lounge area for the fabricators.
The roof is a simple shed roof, with only four unique sections for easy fabrication. It’s curious dance and rear openings are driven by interior functions (mezzanines, light, and ventilation needs) and defines a visual rhythm for the building.
The roof is the same length as the area enclosed by the wall, however it is shifted off the wall to allow for an overhang outside the wall by the canteen, and an open-air area inside the wall by the staff entrance.
Immediately behind the wall is a shallow pool of rainwater accumulated from the roof and from other areas of the site. This pool terminates at the campus’ water treatment facility. The placement of this gutter allows it to also become an element for reflective light and acoustic control, while also limiting insect entrance.
In section, the workshop floor is recessed, maintaining an equal elevation with the topography at the delivery and staff entrance, while created slightly elevated and functionally separate pathways level with the topography of the visitor entrance. The angle of the roof, rammed earth wall, and berm wall are calibrated to bounce soundwaves out and up—preventing disruption of any other activities on the campus or surrounding residential areas.
The columns along the berm wall enter the berm diagonally, making space for electric delivery vehicles to drop off manufacturing materials.