Matrimandir, the central building of an international township in South India, is the biggest completely gold-plated building worldwide. It is located at the centre of the city of Auroville (Tamil Nadu), 150 km South of Chennai. Auroville, which is supported by UNESCO and the government of India, is planned for having one day 50.000 inhabitants coming from all nations. They will live and work out a new form of musticultural society based on diferent and evolutive values.
The original plan for goldplating the outer skin of the building called for the traditional method of applying thin layers of gold leaf, such as in churches and monuments in the Western world and Russia (e.g. the torch of the Statue of Liberty in New York or the 'Dômes des Invalides' in Paris). But the first experiments in this direction clearly showed that this was an impossible realization because of South India extreme climatic conditions and natural environment. Being located 3km away from the seashore of the Bulf of Bengal and exposed to cyclonic conditions, the hot summers of South India offers direct exposure to sun, heat, very wet monsoons and saline air. But all this doesn't cause any problem to the 24k gold-in-glass covered surface of the building and since then, this new form of Art influences and shapes Auroville's appearance and dynamism.
Since the gilded surface of Matrimandir covers a total of 4500 square metres, it was essential to provide a permanent elastic bonding for the 2.3 million golden mosaics and its stainless steel basis. For that purpose, a fibre-reinforced polyester elements with SG-500 (a two-component silicon extremely uv-resistant manufactured by Wacker Chemie, Germany) was carefully selected. A long-term laboratory test of accelerated weathering has shown that even after 100 years, SG-500 will not lose its elasticity while the bonding of glass to stainless stell is so strong that the glass would actually break before it would separate from its base.