Equilateral groined vault

At the request of the NGO Volontariat, the Auroville Earth Institute has been building a showroom in Pondicherry with the help of a local contractor, Mr. Kanu Mistry. Volontariat is a social organization doing voluntary work in Pondicherry for the most underprivileged people since more than 43 years. Among their social activities, they take care of the education of poor children from crèche to craft apprenticeship.

For many years, all the handicrafts done by these youth were not displayed at their advantage in a proper place. Therefore it was necessary to show the quality of these crafts in a suitable place. This showroom has been built in the premises of Shakti Vihar School, run by Volontariat and where a few handicrafts are being taught and done. This School had been built between 1992-1994 by the Auroville Earth Institute and Mr. Kanu Mistry.

Showroom at Shakti Vihar School

The concept for the roof of this showroom is based on an equilateral groined vault, so as to display these crafts in a beautiful and ample space. The foundations and walls were executed, early 2004, by the contractor Kanu Mistry. The vaulted structure has been built free spanning (without support) by the team of the Auroville Earth Institute in about 37 days by 6 to 8 masons. It was the occasion to train some local unemployed youth, labour and masons from Pondicherry area.

The finishes were completed beginning of November 2004. The showroom has been inaugurated by Mme Madeleine De Blic, founder, soul and spirit of Volontariat, and Mr. Balakrishnan, heart surgeon who takes care of the children of Volontariat.

Laying the first courses

Filling the earth concrete between the various courses

Groined vault in progress

Laying a block in the groin

Shaping a block for the bond pattern

Placing a block in the corner

Horizontal courses rising

Limit of the vertical courses

Starting the vertical courses by steps

Block pattern to prepare the keystone

Keystones laid on the vertical courses

Building the vertical courses

Laying a keystone, with the slab on the side

Adjusting a slab at the keystone

Laying keystones

Adjusting a blocks at the groin

Bond pattern at the groin

Bond pattern at the groin with vertical and horizontal blocks

Laying horizontally a block at the groin

Laying vertically a block at the groin

Adjusting a vertical block at the groin

Bond pattern at the groin

Bond pattern at the groin with vertical and horizontal blocks

Filling earth concrete at the steps of the keystone

Groined vault near completion

Complexity of the bond pattern with blocks and keystones

Laying the last keystones

Groined vault completed in 37 days

Groin vault with beams of the mezzanine

Inside the showroom towards the staircase

View from the mezzanine

View towards the staircase and mezzanine


Meeting with Mme Madeleine de Blic and handicrafts

Display of handicrafts done by children

Inauguration of the showroom

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