On the 26th of October the circle held
its session in Merriam Hill centre. Eight people attended.
We continued our discussion on
density. Last week we touched briefly on some standards for open
spaces in new development areas, and this evening we looked at
the massing of buildings. (Massing: the three-dimensional
expression of the amount of development on a given piece of
land.) Several examples were shown as illustrations, for
instance: two-story semi-detached houses with a density of 160
inhabitants per hectare, three-story row houses with 395 inh/ha,
high-density walk-up five-story buildings with 678 inh/ha or 13
story buildings with 972 inh/ha.
A population of fifty thousand is proposed for Auroville out
of which more than half is supposed to live in densities between
300 inh/ha to 640 inh/ha in buildings between 5 and 12 stories
These figures spurred us to take up
the question of the size of the proposed population for
Auroville. It is a sensitive topic because it challenges our
notions of life quality. There are different views as to the
significance of high or low densities and what each contributes
that is of value.
One point of view is that
densities should be moderate. It was stated that people
don't like multi-storied buildings. It is not possible today
to proceed with high-rise buildings as it was in the
sixties. People act and feel differently nowadays. Densities
should not be more than 100-150 inh/ha, one reason being the
prevention of noise-pollution. Furthermore, one cannot judge
the success of Auroville from the number of residents. High
numbers of people will not automatically make a city. It is
rather how people live and the quality of their activities
that is important to Auroville.
From another point of view a
high population is important, since it has the potential for
a far more diversified cultural life, and the level of
higher education and resources for scientific research etc.
can be of another order. High densities call for more
interesting urban spaces and offer larger dimensions to
social life. A few tall buildings, even elevator apartment
buildings, could be acceptable. However, high densities
should not be suburban in character. There should be
variation in size and design of buildings. It was pointed
out that nobody today would plan a city in zones. The city
needs to be mixed to be genuinely urban.
'Massing' involves choices in terms of
open spaces, population densities and the qualities of the urban
We concluded by stressing the need to
specify certain scenarios to make our choices more clear to us.