Auroville Earth Institute Mission & Activities
The mission of the Auroville Earth Institute is:
- To revive traditional skills, and to link ancestral and vernacular traditions of raw earth construction with the modern technologies of stabilised earth.
- To enable and empower people to build their own dwellings using earthen techniques.
- To develop cost effective technologies, affordable to all.
- To respect our Mother Earth, while using its natural resources to build a sustainable future.
- To teach and practice sustainable resource management (for both human and natural resources).
- To demonstrate that earth, as a building material, can be used to create modern, progressive, eco-friendly and safe habitats.
Over the last 27 years, the Auroville Earth Institute has become one of the world’s top centres for excellence in earthen architecture, a leader in the research, development, promotion and transfer of earth-based building technologies. AVEI has worked in 36 countries to promote and disseminate knowledge in earth architecture, and has garnered 14 awards for its work (two international awards and eleven national awards).
The Auroville Earth Institute is the Representative and Resource Centre for Asia of the UNESCO Chair “Earthen Architecture, Constructive Cultures and Sustainable Development”. This Chair aims to accelerate the dissemination of scientific and technical know-how on earthen architecture amongst the higher education institutions, in the following three domains: environment and heritage, human settlements, and economy and production.
The Auroville Earth Institute is part of a world network with CRATerre (The International Centre for Earth Construction, France), ABC Terra (Brazil) and a number of other Indian and worldwide NGO’s. A training convention has been established with the School of Architecture of Grenoble, France, for offering long-term training courses to their students.
The Auroville Earth Institute is also member of Basin South Asia (Basin SA), Regional Knowledge Platform, which is committed to “developing knowledge systems and promoting collaborative action to enable access by the poor in South Asia to sustainable habitat and livelihoods”.
The activities of the institute include research and development of earthen technologies, training and education, publication and dissemination, and the following services offered within India and abroad: consultancy (with priority given to NGO’s, governmental and international organisations), architectural design and construction, heritage conservation, production of materials, and quality control testing.
AVEI specializes in research and development of earthen technologies, which are cost effective, low carbon, low embodied energy solutions for sustainable development. This includes Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks (CSEB) walls, Hollow Interlocking (HI CSEB) walls for disaster resistance, CSEB arches, vaults and domes, Stabilised Rammed Earth Foundations (SREF), Stabilised Rammed Earth Walls (SREW), Earth composite technologies for columns and beams, Stabilised earth waterproofing, plasters and mortars, etc. The most promoted AVEI technology today is Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks.
CSEB is a modern, cement or lime stabilised advance upon traditional building methods, which was developed in the 1950’s for structural, load-bearing strength and resilience against climate. CSEB may be compressed either with a manual or a hydraulic press and stabilised with as little as 5% cement to produce structural masonry units with greater strength and longevity than the average country fired brick. AVEI has designed a whole range of machinery for producing CSEB, including manual and hydraulic presses.
Since 1990, the Auroville Earth Institute has educated over 12,200 people from 84 countries in sustainable building technologies and land management practices, focusing on the use of earth as a building material. Knowledge is disseminated through training courses, seminars, workshops, manuals and other publications.
The Auroville Earth Institute is currently planning a major initiative for the extension of its educational programs and facilities. The new facilities are now being designed to meet the increasing demand for education in earth technologies, and to make a greater impact on affordable, sustainable, climate resilient housing in India and globally. AVEI will introduce 1-year diploma programs for post-graduate students of architecture and engineering, masonry technicians, and vocational masonry craftsmen.
This initiative aims to impact all levels of society, in India and abroad, through the co-education and networking of building specialists: equipping underprivileged workers with the technical and entrepreneurial skills for leadership in the housing sector, and mobilizing the future generations of young Indian architects and engineers with the skilled personnel required to build affordable mass housing with low carbon earthen technologies.