Gayatri dome

This project has been built in Auroville, in the community of Auromodele, at Suryanivas as a pavilion which is meant to play a “spiritual game”.

The concept of this pavilion was based on a lotus shape, emerging from water. Thus the pointed shape of the dome and the building emerging like from a pond. The walls were built with compressed stabilised earth blocks, 14 cm thick and the roofing structure presents these features:
•    Octagonal pointed dome 6.4 m diameter, 4.4 m rise
•    Squinche dome and “Conical” vaults above the corner rooms
•    “Triangular” vault above the side galleries
•    Thickness of the vaults and dome: 7 cm
•    The dome and all vaults have been built free spanning

Segmental groined dome completed in 5 days with 4 masons

The entrance of the compound was marked by a monumental pointed arch. This arch was design to allow a truck to pass below and therefore no truss rod could be used. This arch was built on two pillars made of composite columns 290. Each pillar was composed of 4 columns 290 which were reinforced with 12 mm vertical bars.

The horizontal trust of this arch was going out of the pillars at about 70 cm above ground and therefore the pillars had to deal with the shear stress created by the horizontal trust. A special arrangement of the stirrups allowed the pillars to bear this shear. The arch was built on a centring done with block laid with a very sandy earth mortar, so as to be removed easily later on.


Starting the octagonal dome

Starting a pendentive

Building a pendentive

Laying the first rings above the pendentives

Dome in progress

Dome near completion

Completed dome

Starting the conical vault in the corner

Building the conical vault in the corner

Starting the squinche to meet the conical vault

Building the squinche

Squinche in progress

Squinche near completion

Closing the gap between the conical vault and the squinche with an earth concrete

Starting the conical vault

Window frame used as a template to create the shape

Conical vault in progress

Completing the vault by checking with a straight edge

Gayatri dome completed

Pointed dome with the squinches domes on the side

Pointed dome covered with ceramic tiles


4 composite columns with 12 mm vertical bars

Square stirrups for every column, placed every 2 courses high

Laying block of the columns

Crossed stirrups to take care of the shear caused by the horizontal trust, placed every 2 courses high

Doing the centring on blocks laid on a very sandy earth mortar

Starting the arch

Courses of the arch rising

Applying the mortar with 0 mm at the intrados

Bond pattern for the odd courses

Checking the alignment of the arch with a string line

Checking the verticality with a plumb line

Bond pattern for the even courses

Building the arch symmetrically

Arch near completion

Linking the side blocks of the keystone with reinforcement bars

Arch completed, before removing the centring

Arch completed
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