Bharat Bhavan is an independent multi-art complex and museum in Bhopal. The Government of Madhya Pradesh founded and funded it. Bharat Bhavan’s architect is Charles Correa. A museum of tribal and folk art, libraries of Indian poetry, classical music, and folk music, several art galleries, a graphic printing facility, a ceramics workshop, an open-air amphitheatre, a studio theatre, and an auditorium are all located in Bhopal and were first opened in 1982. Bharat Bhavan offers a stimulating and creative environment to individuals who want to add something fresh and significant to the modern scene in the visual arts, literature, theatre, film, dance, and music. It contains some of the greatest and longest-lasting works produced in our cities, towns, and rural areas.

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Bharat Bhawan_©flicker

History 

In the early 1980s, there was significant growth in the Indian art community, accompanied by a renewed government emphasis on fostering artistic development throughout the country. This endeavour included the establishment of regional art centres in state capitals. While various cultural projects lost momentum in different parts of India, one notable achievement was the Bharat Bhavan in Bhopal. Bharat means India, and Bhavan means House, hence meaning India House.

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concept sketch©charlescorreafoundation
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section_©charlescorreafoundation

The then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, inaugurated the institution on February 13, 1982. Its operations are overseen by the autonomous Bharat Bhavan Trust, consisting of 12 members. Over the next few years, the institution saw growth in its stature. It became a prominent cultural hub in India, attracting artists, scholars, students, and visitors not only from various Indian cities such as Mumbai, Kolkata but even foreign countries too.

Planning and Architecture Style 

Situated on a gently sloping plateau with picturesque views of the lake in Bhopal, the arts centre utilises natural topography to create a captivating setting. The site has been ingeniously designed, incorporating sunken courts and terrace gardens as focal points for various cultural amenities. These facilities encompass a diverse range, such as a museum dedicated to Tribal Art, a library showcasing Indian Poetry in all seventeen major languages, galleries showcasing Contemporary Art, workshops for lithography and sculpture, and an artist-in-residence studio. Within Bharat Bhavan, aptly named “India House,” there is a thriving theatre repertoire company and extensive resources for the performing arts, including the Antarang, an indoor auditorium, and the Bhairang, an open-air amphitheatre overlooking the tranquil lake.

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Open-air amphitheatre ©charlescorreafoundation

The terraces and courtyards exemplify Charles Correa’s vision of spatial progression, akin to a maze or puzzle, where elements are gradually revealed, creating an interconnected network of internal streets reminiscent of a village layout. This thoughtful design approach aligns the building with the organisational structure of Bhopal itself. To ensure ample lighting and ventilation in the sunken-covered spaces, Correa incorporated a top-lit “cannon” feature.

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skylighting_©googleArts&Culture
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skylighting©charlescorreafoundation

Furthermore, the entrances to the courtyards and terraces are equipped with dual shutters. The inner shutters consist of a combination of glass and openable panels, allowing for ventilation, while the outer shutters comprise substantial wooden doors that can be closed for security purposes. Constructed between 1975 and 1981, the Bharat Bhavan is one of Correa’s most intricate embodiments of his concepts of “maze” and “progression,” representing his early architectural and design principles. It also showcases his deep appreciation for the surrounding landscape and site, a theme that becomes even more profound in his subsequent works. For these distinctive qualities, Bharat Bhavan is significant among Correa’s notable projects.

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dual shutters©charlescorreafoundation

Building Material 

Bharat Bhavan showcases a captivating blend of diverse building materials contributing to its distinctive aesthetic appeal. The exterior facade exhibits the timeless elegance of red sandstone and the meticulous craftsmanship of Flemish bond brickwork, which adds texture and visual interest. The structural framework of the building relies on reinforced concrete (RCC), providing a solid and durable foundation. As one explores the interior spaces, the architectural elements take on a contemporary flair with exposed concrete surfaces, showcasing the beauty of raw materials. To infuse a touch of grandeur and sophistication, ashlar stone is skilfully incorporated into the outer facade, creating a striking contrast and a sense of refinement. Moving further into the internal areas, one encounters the luxurious presence of marble and granite, enhancing the ambiance with their opulent textures and exquisite detailing. Together, these meticulously chosen building materials contribute to the unique character and visual allure of Bharat Bhavan, making it a truly remarkable architectural masterpiece.

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exterior façade_©bhopaltourism

Landscaping 

The landscape of Bharat Bhavan incorporates several elements that contribute to its functionality, aesthetics, and cultural resonance. To combat the heat and maintain a cooler environment, the roofs are covered with grass, providing natural insulation and creating a visually pleasing green expanse. Including open-to-sky courtyards is a practical solution for managing crowds, facilitating movement, and enhancing the overall spatial experience. Moreover, the landscape design seamlessly integrates with the natural surroundings, gently transitioning towards the picturesque lakefront and forming an amphitheatre setting. This thoughtful arrangement harmonises with the site and offers a captivating backdrop for performances and cultural events. Furthermore, the steps within the courtyards draw inspiration from the architectural style of traditional Indian ghats, adding a touch of heritage and cultural significance to the landscape. Through these deliberate landscape choices, Bharat Bhavan creates an inviting and culturally enriching environment that resonates with visitors and the local community.

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roof garden©charlescorreafoundation
sunken courtyard_©charlescorreafoundation

References:

  • issuu.com. (n.d.). BHARAT BHAVAN, BHOPAL. CASE STUDY – AKSHIT SINGHAL (A.I.A.P. Gr Noida) by Akshit Singhal – Issuu. [online] Available at: https://issuu.com/akshit.singhal990.com/docs/bharat_bhavan_final.
  • Wikipedia Contributors (2019). Bharat Bhavan. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bharat_Bhavan [Accessed 9 Dec. 2019].
  • bharatbhawan.org. (n.d.). BHARAT BHAVAN. [online] Available at: https://bharatbhawan.org/.
  • ArchDaily. (2016). AD Classics: Bharat Bhavan / Charles Correa. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/791942/ad-classics-bharat-bhavan-charles-correa?ad_medium=gallery [Accessed 5 Jun. 2023].
  • Charles Correa Foundation. (2022). BHARAT BHAVAN. [online] Available at: https://charlescorreafoundation.org/2022/02/23/bharat-bhavan/.
Author

Preksha is an endeavoring architecture student who relishes traveling and reading. With a desire to create engaging and thought-provoking content, she is committed to rummaging through new ideas in architecture and design, sharing them with a broader audience, and inspiring positive change through her writing.