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Client: Auroville Community

Year: 2018-2022

Location: Matrimandir Gardens, Auroville

Site Area:  8000 m²

Built Up Area: NA

Type: Garden Landscape

Team: Mona Doctor-Pingel, Madhivanan Gnanavel, Joss Brooks, Andreas Bickford

Contractor: Matrimandir teams

Photo Credits: Madhivanan Gnanavel, Mona Doctor-Pingel, various others

Drone Photos: Prabuddha Patro


On 2 June 2018, Matrimandir announced an international open design event inviting design proposals for the Garden of the Unexpected. 22 registrations were received. An Expert panel was formulated to review and furnish feedback on the designs.

Stage 1 - Concept submission along with a basic estimate, feedback given by the expert panel based on 4 parameters: Concept & Aesthetics; Interactivity & engagement; Sustainability and Implementation & Practicality. In Stage 2, the participants were given one month to rework and submit their designs along with a 5 min slideshow/video of their proposal. Eventually 3 entries were shortlisted by the expert panel from 11 entries submitted.

On 21st October 2018, an exhibition was held in Unity Pavilion, Auroville to display the works of all the eleven entries. A public panel consisting pre-registered Aurovilians from diverse backgrounds gathered over half a day, to select the winning entry from the 3 selected entries. All entries were kept anonymous. The team Unexpected Four was chosen to manifest the Garden of the Unexpected with detailed feedback given.

As there were several compelling elements in the other two designs as per the community feedback, the organizers requested the winning entry to integrate some of them. Thus began Dreamweaving – a unique process which has been developed in Auroville based on co-creation. This involved several open discussions among the teams. Over the span of two months, the best aspects from the other two designs were integrated into the winning design, without it losing its essence.


The Garden of the Unexpected has a dignified independence from the other is a different being, a place with a twinkle in its eye…There are 4 gardens reflecting the spirit of place named BIRTH, ADOLESCENCE, YOUTHFULNESS, ETERNAL CHILD.


Garden of the Unexpected is a team work of Mona Doctor-Pingel, Madhivanan Gnanvel, Joss Brooks and Andreas Bickford (architect based in Australia). This is one of the biggest areas for landscape in the Matrimandir oval complex comprising 2 acres, separated in to four different segments by footpaths.

The execution of the gardens work was started on 21st February 2019 with a gathering of Aurovillians and planting of the first 12 plumeria bushes in the fourth segment of the Garden of Eternal child abutting the West Axis of Matrimandir.  Garden of the Adolescence, was the first to be implemented and got completed on 21st November 2019, It was inaugurated with children of Auroville planting some small seasonal flowering plants. The Garden of Birth was inaugurated on the 15th August 2020 quietly due to COVID 19. Garden of Youthfulness & Garden of the Eternal child are currently under construction.

This project received the HUDCO Special Mention certificate in the Landscape Planning and Design Category, 2020.


As an initiative to contribute towards Auroville’s land campaign and create awareness about the project simultaneously, the studio has developed a line of postcards and stickers showcasing the Garden of Unexpected.

All proceeds from this set will go to securing land for Auroville, and sold under the initiative, “Art for Land”.

The set includes 2 postcards and 6 stickers - All elements are from the Garden, such as the flora curated carefully and the fauna that visits the garden as a result, and other elements designed for the garden by the studio.

Artwork credits – Shyambhavi Shukla


Garden of the Unexpected has been honored with a commendation award by Centre for Development of Stones (CDOS) 11th edition of international stone industry exhibition on 10th November, 2022.


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