“Test Bed” Green Cities Pop Up Around the World

auroville master plan

Green building innovation has progressed to a point where large-scale operations are now being undertaken in order to test new technologies and implement umbrella sustainability strategies. These operations are increasingly coming in the form of test-zones including green technology ghost towns in which various practices, design constructs and technologies that offer to lower global carbon emissions outputs can be tested.

The western world has traditionally led these kinds of endeavours with major developments such as New Mexico’s 20 square mile CITE town developed by communications, technology and defense contractor Pegasus Global Holdings setting new benchmarks in this kinds of green-education based development. Now, this area of green innovation is reaching new frontiers, as evidenced at this week’s Climate Change Conference in Doha.

The ways in which traditionalist architecture and design lower carbon outputs are increasingly coming to light, as evidenced by the Indian ‘experimental’ township of Auroville (translating to ‘City of Dawn’) in the Vilupparum district.

Founded and developed in by Mirra Alfassa of the Sri Aurobindo Society and funded by UNESCO, the city itself has been designed by French architect Roger Anger as a ‘universal town’ in an effort to create ‘human unity’ through community.

CITE Research Campus

This concept may seem idealistic to an Indian industry that is developing so quickly that many have deemed it necessarily unsustainable. However, Auroville, home to 2,000 residents – 20 of which are architects – may hold the key to developing a sustainable precedence for the Indian design and construction industry.

The city’s history of innovation and foundation of research and implementation of green design and renewable energy practices underscores the city’s importance to industry undertakings and its appeal to design students around the world.

Green building techniques – from the development of specifically curved housing, which offers strength, durability and heat reduction to the use of handmade bricks from locally sourced mud – make the township a hotbed for green thinking and learning, and serve as an example for mainstream industry practices in the country.

The green building industry has evolved to where it is rapidly entering the mainstream. Its further evolution will be made possible through development, testing and exploration of the sector.

By Emily D’Alterio
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