The building is a standout what with ferns growing out of its ears

If you walk down Rhenius Street in Shantinagar, there's a building that stands out amidst the concrete jungle, not least because of the profusion of grass and ferns that grows out of its walls.

Jaaga (meaning space in Kannada) describes itself as a “creative common ground”. It seeks to nurture innovative projects — social, political, environmental or of artistic value — by providing space, infrastructure, mentoring and a diverse social environment.

Built in 2009 from industrial pallet racks, it was raised in just 15 hours and can house up to 400 people. The building is mobile: this means it can be dismantled, relocated and reassembled anytime. The façade of the building, which is the first thing that attracts passersby, is a vertical garden which was designed by artist-activist Eve Sibley and a team of talented green activists.

Just when you think Jaaga cannot have more surprises in store, you realise that the garden is grown on rotating vertical panels, on the reverse side of which illustrated birds converge to form Freddie Mercury's face!

The vertical garden soaks up all the sun during the day and at night the panels are rotated.

Within this exceptional structure are a bunch of creative thinkers, designers and architects such as Archana Prasad and Freeman Murray, who are the co-founders of Jaaga, along with Naresh Narasimhan, Dean Blagsvedt and Kiran D'Silva.

Freeman and Archana had written an essay titled ‘Enlightened Singularity' which is the basis on which Jaaga has evolved. “The Enlightened Singularity theory is that point of convergence where the desire and the will to create meet,” explains Archana. Jaaga “focusses on art and culture that use digital technology in new ways: from cross-continental real-time poetry readings to installations seeking to manifest the coming Internet consciousness”.

Jaaga is at present organising an exhibition on sound and light which is an exploration and celebration of using light and sound in the most creative way possible.

Keywords: Jaaga