Bangalore International Centre, the cultural and intellectual hub located in Domlur, is moving to a new building in the same neighbourhood.
That’s good news for those interested in arts, books and culture, and a dream come true for its members.
Located on a half-acre civic amenities BDA plot, the new building houses an auditorium, art gallery, library, conference hall, cafeteria and amphitheatre.
BIC, as the centre is known, was founded in November 2005, and functioned for 13 years from The Energy Research Initiative (TERI) building, using its intimate theatre, with a capacity of 90, for thoughtfully curated talks and cultural events.
The stage was not big enough, and that is what skewed the programmes in favour of talks and panel discussions, says V Ravichandar, honorary director, BIC.
The auditorium in the new building is larger and the stage deeper. “We can hold plays and medium-sized dance and music events,” says Ravichandar. The centre has paid meticulous attention to acoustics as well. The seats are imported from Malaysia.
The building is called Bengaluru Katte, with the Kannada word ‘katte’ alluding to the neighbourhood meeting point, where people feel free to chat and debate without inhibition. The name was suggested by Rohini Nilekani. With IT czar-husband Nandan, she has donated Rs 7 crore for the building. Wipro has contributed Rs 5 crore.
Bengaluru Katte has come up at a cost of Rs 29 crore, with Rs 3.1 crore being what the centre paid for the site.
Six years ago, BIC held a contest and called for architectural designs for the building. It received 87 entries, 15 of them from architects abroad. The jury chose Hundred Hands, a Koramangala-based firm, to design and execute the project.
The brief was simple: the half-acre space had to lend innovatively for a variety of activities, and the design had to be conscious of the residential nature of the centre’s location. The idea was to keep the building height similar to what was found around, and not to create an imposing, intimidating structure.
Clearly, BIC is inspired by the sprawling India International Centre in Delhi, both in its philosophy and the brick-red facade in its lounge. Ravichandar says debates will be adequately represented by opposing viewpoints. “The world is polarised, and we want to provide a platform for neutrality,” says Ravichandar.
The centre’s programme committees and sub-committees curate the events. They are made up of distinguished artists, writers and academics. Amitava Banerjee, formerly with the World Bank, is keen on public policy, and is among those who decides on the programmes. Irina Snissar and Raghu Tenkalaya help the centre connect with those in the world of art and culture.
S R Ramakrishna
* The new building is located at Bangalore International Centre, No 7, 4th Main, Stage 2, Domlur.
BIC Fest marks the opening of the new building on Sunday. It features day-long talks, debates and arts and culture events, including some for children. See full schedule in Metrolife on Saturday.
Entry to events free
Bangalore International Centre has 970 members. Membership covers spouses, so effectively, it has about 1,700 individual members, besides institutional (IIM-B, National Institute of Advanced Studies) and corporate (Bosch, Toyota, Titan) members. “All our programmes are free-to-attend, and members aren’t getting too many special privileges,” says Ravichandar.