Bangalore International Centre, Bengaluru
Architects: Hundredhands Design
The initiative and patronage from the state for quality civic projects has diminished, and as one witnesses numerous cultural institutions within our cities fall into neglect and disuse, there is an increasing sense of encroachment on the independence of numerous civic facilities that once served as podiums for urban life. This sense of erosion of the public nature of our buildings is compounded by the fact that good cultural facilities are often mediocre designs and that their vitality has very little contribution from their architecture.
The Bangalore International Centre was commissioned to be designed as a cultural space for the city of Bengaluru through a public competition steered by a committee of citizens who mobilised effort and raised funding for the project. Located on a tight urban site in a predominantly residential neighbourhood, the BIC building proposes a new language for design of contemporary cultural spaces in Indian cities. The compact urban block is carved from within to create a vertical void that cuts the built form obliquely and organises circulation and congregation spaces around this central volume.
The functional spaces – galleries, library, auditorium, cafeteria etc. – flank this central void creating interesting vertical connections and allowing natural light to permeate to the sanctum through cascading floor-plates. While the building is crafted with urban materials: concrete, glass, and steel; the architecture employs tactile surfaces and fine detailing to generate a sense of delight at the scale of the human experience. The design of an accessible rooftop with a small amphitheatre enables the visitors to experience the city as the backdrop for the events.
The site and the building are softened with clever employment of landscape rendering the setbacks as positive urban space. Today, while one seldom comes across quality urban architecture in the public realm, the Bangalore International Centre not only sets an important precedent for architecture as an implement for vital cultural life in a city; it serves as a model for an architecture of new urban institutions – the ones that have a potential to resist outright privatisations of the civic realm and therefore, the Bangalore International Centre by Hundredhands Design is a Citation Project in The Merit List.
Images & Drawings: courtesy Hundredhands Design