In the film Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s father asks him, “Is this heaven?” His response is, “No, it’s Iowa.” Well, to some, Iowa may just be their slice of heaven, especially those who reside in and around the City of Fairfield.
Fairfield, Iowa may initially seem like your typical small Midwest college town. Located in southeast Iowa, about 2.5 hours south of the famous Field of Dreams, it is surrounding by miles and miles of cornfields. However, upon arrival (or further research), it becomes apparent that Fairfield is not an ordinary college town, for it is home of Maharishi International University and a suburb (Maharishi Vedic City), both which have been designed and constructed in accordance the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s application of the ancient Vedic architecture and the design principles of Vanstu Shastra.
Immediately apparent upon a visit (or a quick search on TripAdvisor) are the diverse dining/cuisine offerings in Fairfield that one would find hard to top in cities of much larger populations. This is definitely not a town of basic fast-food chain offerings. Instead you find Turkish, Vietnamese, Indian, organic, health-conscious, Asian, Thai, Mexican, and Ethiopian fare here amidst the traditional, cafe, and pub American dining options. The international atmosphere of the community is palpable, particularly downtown, near the campus, and in the northern suburb of Maharishi Vedic City.
Maharishi Vedic City’s layout consists of a series of ten circular, square, and/or rectangular Mandala geometric designs as shown in the plan image (second above). Much like western city design, the grid pattern is clearly evident, even among some of the Mandalas that have a circular perimeter. Unique and sustainable aspects included within the city’s zoning ordinance are provisions that:
- All improvements within the city be developed in accordance with Natural Law, including goals of use of only non-toxic and non-polluting building materials and incorporation of solar and other sustainable energy options.
- “The design of the 1000-acre core of the City as ten mandalas representing the Constitution of the Universe was conceived by Maharishi and shall be implemented and maintained as the key design feature of the City.”
- “The Ten Mandala design surrounding a central common area or Brahmasthan, shall be used to create a system of roads, streets, trails, paths and utility corridors that encourage a walkable, bikeable, and easily accessible community.”
- Farming and land management must be consistent with nature; principles.
- “All land (including private residential areas) in the City shall be managed in accord with the principles and practices of the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). In particular, no farm or garden inputs shall be used that are not approved for use in the NOP.”
- Genetically modified seeds, plants or materials are prohibited in the city.
- “All commercial farm operations in the City shall be certified organic by a certification agency that is accredited by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) or by the Demeter Association.
- A goal is included in the ordinance that all vehicles within the city must be solely electric when this becomes practical.
The residential neighborhoods are lovely and the structures throughout are beautifully designed. Lush vegetable gardens and verdant landscaping are interspersed throughout, while a trail network interconnects the Mandalas to open spaces. A circular loop trail is also planned as shown below.
The community definitely feels “at one” with its natural and agricultural surroundings, which is a key component of Vastu Shastra planning and design. While the community has not grown to the extent originally anticipated, it is a fascinating place to visit and see these ancient principles applied at a significant scale here in the United States.
Below are a series of photographs of Maharishi Vedic City and the university in Fairfield, both of which incorporate Vedic architecture and Vastu Shanstra planning and design principles. If it weren’t for the rooftop ornamentation and other minor design elements that give the homes a subtle South Asian architectural flair, one might not realize the city is being built based an “enlightened” set of ancient principles.
By the way, if you decide to visit, beside to check out the amazing and inspirational Vedic observatory shown in the pair of images just below. Peace!
More images from Maharishi Vedic City:
Images from Maharishi International University:
If Vastu city planning and design interests you, here are two books on the topic available thru Amazon.com.*
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