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Role of Architecture in transforming a community – A perspective by renowned architect Lalit Bhati

Being in Auroville provides us a unique opportunity to constantly meet people from different regions, with varied skills and life perspectives. Recently we had the pleasure of hosting Lalit Kishore Bhati, an architect and urban planner, who took time out to share with our team his perspective on the unique challenges and opportunities of living in a place like Auroville. 

Originally from the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Lalit moved to Auroville in his mid-twenties. As a young graduate, he knew he wanted his practice to be more than just about making beautiful buildings and seeked a more integral approach towards his work. 

Architect and Planner Lalit Kishore Bhati speaks to Yuvabe team about using cities as living curriculums.

Taking us through a quick history of the early years of Auroville, Lalit brought to light how spatial transformation can be both a cause and effect of our inner transformations. It can be a reflection of how we are operating on the inside; how fragmented or unified we are in our thoughts and actions, as individuals and as a society. According to him, our inner alignment, cultivated by actively working on our physical, mental, spiritual selves can be reflected in the spaces we create or occupy. 

He also brought up an interesting way of looking at a city’s development; seeing it as a human being’s development; with physical, mental, and spiritual changes taking place at different levels at different stages of time.

We reflected on how built environments can create opportunities for dialogue, even conflict, but ultimately act as a medium of transformation in any community. In the Auroville context, we understood how the architecture has often aimed to facilitate a sense of community and participation and instill through it, an aspect of integral yoga in our everyday life.

Auroville at dawn, photo by Prachi Gupta

Lalit showed us how a city’s design can even facilitate the adoption of certain habits in its population. In Auroville, for example, the laying of cycle paths in the early stages of development helped cultivate a habit of cycling as a primary mode of mobility. Finally, Lalit emphasised on looking at cities as a living curriculum and becoming better observers of our surroundings and spaces in order to understand how we are transforming as a society. Afterall, our land is a finite resource and being aware of how sustainably and effectively we use it affects every sphere of our life, no matter what profession we follow. As a team inclined towards sustainable, holistic growth, this was indeed a very insightful talk for us.


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