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Construction phases:

1992 - 2000

 

Air-conditioning

Experts started working on drawings for the Inner Chamberís air conditioning in 1989 and made decisions about the type of system in May 1992. In this year the underground space for the chilling plant (at the Amphitheater) had been cast and the spaces for the air-handling units inside the north and south ribs of Matrimandir were complete.
The 80,000-litre tank for chilled water - assembled from fibre-reinforced polyester panels - was well on the way to completion by February 1993. Compressors, condensers and pumps as well as electrical control panels were all in place. The water piping duct, running from the Amphitheater to the Matrimandir had been constructed. The air-conditioning system is now up and running almost inaudibly in the Chamber.

Solar plant

During these times the first plans were made for the solar panel plant that was to supply the system with electricity. This plant is up and running since 1997, having replaced conventional current derived from a nuclear power plant. Although it does not cover the Chamber's air conditioning, it supplies about 20 KW of power to the Matrimandir's electrical infrastructure, thereby taking care of the full lighting load of the structure (including the spotlights in the Chamber and the motors of the heliostat) as well as one of the Matrimandir waterpumps.

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Carpet

The carpet - woven in India from imported wool - was ready early in 1994. It took six months to weave the twelve sections and two spare pieces, which cover the entire floor area of the Chamber. The process of laying the carpet took nearly six days to finish, beginning on the 19th of February.

Crystal globe

The seventy centimeter diameter 'crystal' globe, the only one of its kind, is the biggest optically perfect glass globe ever made in the world. On arrival at Madras Airport in April 1991, it was passed through customs in record time and driven straight to Auroville. The next morning it was hoisted in its packing crate up to the Inner Chamber.

Mother said that four of Sri Aurobindo's symbols - standing upright and joined together at the corners - should carry the crystal globe in Matrimandir. During the time that the symbols were being manufactured (between 1992 and 1993) the crystal was placed on top of a prototype of the four Sri Aurobindo symbols. In 1993 the prototype was replaced with the finished symbols.

The gold discs

The outer skin of Matrimandir is to be totally covered by decorative, golden, concave and convex discs. Mounted onto the structure by a system of metal rods, they will have the practical function of shading the building from the strong sunlight of south-India.
After several years of trials, a first series of discs was made in polyester. Resulting from further research and experimentation, modifications of the prototype were made. The majority of the discs' shells have finally been made of stainless steel, and not of polyester.
In August 1995 the gilding of the discs started under the guidance of a master gilder from Germany. About 461 big convex discs (2.3 m diam) and 954 small (1.4 m diam) concave discs were to be produced. Over 100 discs were made using the method of gilding which the master gilder taught the workers at Auroville, before it was discovered that this method might not be suitable. Birds and bees, attaching themselves to the gold discs forced a reconsideration of this method of gilding.

By October 1996 no doubts were left about the best solution for the golden discs. After several months of research in Asia and Europe, the method was chosen of encasing the gold leaf between two thin layers of glass, sealed at the edges, to yield something like a 4 x 4 cm gold 'tile'. It offers a solution which answers not only requirements of durability but also easy maintenance. The gold will be safe inside the glass which can be scrubbed, brushed and sprayed. Replacement of one or more of the gold tiles can also be done easily.

The gold leaves are manufactured in Germany and are of a high quality (28 g of gold per 1000 leaves). About 18 kilos of gold will be required - 750,000 leaves in all, of about 85 x 85 mm and of 8 microns thick.

As of December 2000, 852 golden discs have been mounted on the structure's skin.

The heliostat and lens

The heliostat, fixed on the top of Matrimandir, is a device for tracking the sun and projecting a single ray of sunlight onto the crystal globe inside the Inner Chamber. The amount of light and heat on the crystal globe was studied by French and German engineers. The present heliostat was fabricated at Matrimandir itself and its components were ready for assembly in September of 1993. Tests were carried out to satisfaction by August 1994. In May of the next year a 45 centimeter diameter lens with focal length of thirty meter (manufactured in India) was installed for focussing the sun ray in a converging beam that strikes the globe inside the chamber.
The gilded symbols of Sri Aurobindo supporting the globe have a base with a small hole and a second lens, which refocuses the light beam to become visible in the lotus pool under the Matrimandir.

The petals

The twelve stone-clad 'petals' around the Matrimandir form an intrinsic part of the complex. This is not only so because they add to the image of the New Consciousness breaking forth from Matter, but also since they - as the main structure itself - are to be centres for 'silence and concentration' with meditation rooms built inside each of them. Once completed, each of these circular spaces will carry the name and colour of one of the 'petals' of the Mother's symbol, so that users can choose the appropriate space according to their need of the moment.

The petals are fanning from the promenade around the pond beneath the Matrimandir and extending for over forty meters, gradually descending to ground level and the inner gardens. There are twelve pathways between the petals, four of which lead directly into Matrimandir via staircases between the pillars, and eight of which lead to the pond underneath. Each petal will contain an egg-shaped meditation room corresponding in colour and vibration to qualities like sincerity, aspiration and others. Circling the big petals there are twelve smaller, mainly grass covered petals, which lead onto the inner gardens.
Making the foundations of the petals started in 1992 and today the twelve petals are completed. Red Agra stone has by now covered most of them.

The first meditation room in the first petal, on the left side of the main entrance to Matrimandir,is nearly completed.

The gardens

Mother said that the gardens are as important as Matrimandir itself. The beginnings of the garden go back to 1970 when the location of the Matrimandir Nursery was chosen. However, it wasnít until late 1987 that a design for the inner gardens was approved. In 1991, work on the rose garden west of the Amphitheater began. 1,700 roses in 25 beds were planted by March 1992. The irrigation system was installed to follow the general layout of the gardens.
Leveling of the garden area began and two deep water wells were dug bored early 1993. Work proceeded in the quadrant of the garden between West and South, to mark the South axis, and the contouring continued towards the southwest quadrant. Part of the existing lake had been lined and in the western part of the outer gardens pits were dug for planting trees.
By mid 1995 landscaping of the Garden of Unity was finished and the earth movement shifted clockwise to the next garden, the Garden of Light. The same overall wave-like forms which dominate most of the gardens are repeated there.

Piero at work on the Sri Aurobindo symbols

The gold discs

 

The heliostat            >> more

The petals

The gardens              >> more

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