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When Sustainability Met Creativity At Bangalore Creative Circus

A warehouse with a metal seahorse art installation and several plants in the background
The Bangalore Creative Circus

The history of sustainable architecture incorporated human’s relationship with nature which led to efficiently built systems, however, the modern movement of sustainable architecture which emerged in the late 19th and 20th centuries came about as a result of climate change impacted by industrialisation and urbanisation.

One of the early influences during 1919 - 1933 involved The Bauhaus School led by architects Walter Gropius and Ludwig Miles Van Der Ruhe who emphasised simplicity and functionality integrated with artistic and technological elements in their architectural designs. This influenced future designs due to its simple and rational approach. In modern times, however, principles of circular economy are favoured by activists and eco-friendly architects. The principles included reusing materials and repurposing existing structures, which are rarely evident today. However, our team was fortunate to come across Bangalore Creative Circus which applied these policies effectively.

What started as an experiment on a warehouse in Yeshwantpur by Ajay Raghavan, a former employment lawyer, led to establishment of a creative hub that fosters art and sustainability. The organisation stands proud as a distinct architectural marvel amidst large cement jungles that dominate the expanse of the city.

Evidently, activists and educational systems play their part in raising awareness for climate change and promoting sustainability, however, there is no certainty on the practice being carried on responsibly by each individual. This leaves us behind in coordinating our lifestyles with nature which continues to deteriorate and threaten the survival of humanity in future. Raghavan, on the other hand, watched a documentary called “Before The Flood” in 2017 which left him astonished by the large-scale destruction of Earth caused by humanity and the crisis we were facing. The documentary showed actor Leonardo DiCaprio discussing the dangers of climate change with scientists and world leaders who proposed possible solutions.

I was a big fan of the actor Leonardo Di Caprio and through his narrative in the film, I started to understand the impacts of climate change. It set me on a journey of trying to understand the cause and effect of climate change, which eventually led to the setting up of Bangalore Creative Circus as a way to respond to the challenges we face today
- Ajay Raghawan

Canteen area
Canteen Corner at The Bangalore Creative Circus

As one should, Raghawan was concerned about the world he was leaving behind for his daughter and how human greed has manifested a bleak and frightening future for future generations. With his aim to implement environment friendliness and leave a positive impact on the world, he began a social media campaign on Instagram and WhatsApp, inviting people to donate unnecessary materials so they could use them to build a restaurant. The response bewildered him as they received a lot of materials from old curios to broken furniture, family heirlooms and a plethora of electronic waste. They wanted to repurpose a warehouse which was formerly used as a steel factory, a labour housing facility, and a tiles stockyard.

The challenge was to find an architecture firm that was willing to abide by these standards and create a successful structure. Upon further research, the team came across Tawhid Khan, an architect whose core principles lay in building sustainable and pragmatic structures. Raghawan contacted Khan who was the founder of the architecture firm called Nativity and gained invaluable assistance in constructing and repurposing a 20,000 ft warehouse that aligned with his values.

A large-scale architectural structure that impeccably implemented eco-friendly procedures and practices granted them international acclaim and won them the prestigious Dezeen Award for Sustainable Interiors in 2022.

Aquaponics at a warehouse establishment
Aquaponics at The Bangalore Creative Circus

Bangalore Creative Circus today practices and promotes environment-friendly art and permaculture. It functions as an experience centre attracting visitors to gaze at an example of sustainable architecture; the place houses a circus canteen, museum, garden store and farming activities depicting urban farming methods such as aquaponics, hydroponics, permaculture and mushroom cultivation. Additionally, the circus boasts a rainwater storage capacity of 100,000 litres stored through underground sumps and storage tanks. Waste is segregated from the harvested water and dark water is used to water the garden through underground channels to rejuvenate the soil. The staff also uses a plant-based system to clean and reuse most of the grey water that is generated. The wet waste is later composted and used as bio-fertiliser or bio-enzyme for gardening and cleaning. The dry waste is however used by artists to create sustainable art.

One of the most interesting areas is a 6000 sq. ft. studio space reserved for artists. The artist's studio includes a marker space that has all the tools that an artist may need to work with several visual mediums such as painting, pottery, wood and metal. The studio also incorporates a space for digital artists and designers including Studio Madhatter which is dedicated to artists that can create functional decor and can be incorporated in homes and institutions.

artist studio and firework event

Office Area and an art gallery space
(From left) Studio Madhatter, Events Area, The Office section and Art Gallery space

The Bangalore Creative Circus also has a sound room, an art gallery and an artist residency in addition to the artist studio space. While they try their best to upcycle and repurpose materials to create art, inaccessibility and unavailability sometimes force them to make difficult choices. They also find artists who understand these values and practice them whilst trying their best to create works through sustainability. The circus aims at offering support to such artists also due to the lack of acceptance of upcycled art in the mainstream art world. They assist artists by connecting them to buyers, architects and interior designers who would love to work on renewable decor pieces.

The institution is a hub for creative professionals and environment-friendly communities that work together to promote art, culture, eco-friendly farming and conversations that highlight the significance of protecting our planet through a change in lifestyles. The founder, Ajay Raghawan aims to expand his vision by finding artists who promote the idea of living in harmony with nature by creating works through upcycled materials. He believes in the power of art to inspire the masses through its unconventional beauty and the circus setting an example of creativity coming to terms with sustainability.

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