Paolo Tommasi, Italian architect who helped design Matrimandir in Auroville, dies of COVID-19

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Paolo Tommasi, 92, an Italian architect-artist who helped design the Matrimandir, the sphere-shaped centrepiece of Auroville, died of COVID-19, on Thursday.

Mr. Tomassi was among the few persons still around, who had interacted with Mirra Alfassa — ‘The Mother’ to her followers — the spiritual associate of Sri Aurobindo, who established the universal township of Auroville in 1968. He was closely associated with the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, though he was living in an independent apartment nearby.

Health officials on Friday said he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 in June and had been admitted to JIPMER on July 2. He was shifted to the ICU on July 15, when his condition worsened but failed to survive.

Hailing from Ancona, Italy, Mr. Tomassi came to India and played a crucial role in helping French architect Roger Anger design the Matrimandir and the 12 gardens surrounding Matrimandir.

In a Facebook post, Auroville said: “Paolo Tommasi, an Italian Artist connected with Auroville and the Ashram since 1965, left his body today, at the age of 92. Always a searcher, he was in his thirties called to India, where he met Mother at the age of 38 and felt he had found what he had been seeking. This was just before Auroville’s inauguration in ’68, and a few years before the concept of Matrimandir would emerge. In this very process Paolo would, in his reserved and reflective manner, play an unobtrusive but significant role. He later would also propose elaborate designs for the twelve gardens around Matrimandir.

Paolo permanently settled in Puducherry in 2010 and continued his artwork. His sketches and paintings were displayed in in various galleries around the world and Auroville.”

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