• Auroville: On Building a Belief System
    Santiago Borja

Santiago Borja, Sri Aurobindo Statue at the UNESCO HQ, 2018, Paris. © Santiago Borja.

The research project is based on the very peculiar relationship between the UNESCO and Auroville, an esoteric universalist community founded in India in 1968. Auroville was conceived by Mirra Alfassa, a French woman who followed the teachings of Indian guru Sri Aurobindo and decided to consecrate her lifework to the promotion of his spiritual philosophy. Auroville is not only the utopian materialization of this belief system; based on models of solidarity, human unity through diversity, and universal wellbeing where money and other forms of conventional means of trade and organization were to be challenged, but an interesting and unique example of esoteric inspired architecture in liaison with ecological sustainability. Through the joint collaboration of Auroville’s Earth Institute and the UNESCO Chair for Earthen Architecture there has been a serious attempt to promote earth constructions all over the world, expanding the reach of this same belief system beyond the city limits.

Santiago Borja earned his BS in architecture from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico and a master’s degree in theory and practice of contemporary art and new media from the Université Paris VIII. He holds a teaching position at the ENPEG/INBA in Mexico. He has participated in numerous international exhibitions namely the California-Pacific Triennial, Hangzhou Triennial in 2016; Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2015; and the Global Contemporary at ZKM, in Karlsruhe, Germany. He has created major projects for the Villa Savoye (Poissy); Neutra VDL House (Los Angeles); Irish Museum of Modern Art; Freud Museum (London); Sonneveld House (Rotterdam); and Mies van der Rohe Pavilion (Barcelona). He has been granted with important awards and his work has been supported by institutions such as the Graham Foundation in Chicago, Dicréam in France, and Jumex Foundation. He is a member of the SNCA-FONCA Mexico.