Courtyard: A haven for curated culinary, cultural, and creative exchanges in Bengaluru

Akhila Srinivas's Courtyard situated in Bengaluru aims to be an easy entry point into culture, devoid of barriers.

ByDeeksha Devadiga

Published Jul 07, 2024 | 8:00 AM Updated Jul 07, 2024 | 8:00 AM

Courtyard is a haven for curated culinary, cultural, and creative exchanges in Bengaluru

In the bustling heart of Bengaluru lies Courtyard, an open space designed to foster curated culinary, cultural, and creative exchanges. The brainchild of Akhila Srinivas, Courtyard is more than just a venue – it’s a community hub where art, design, and gastronomy converge.

The Courtyard. (Supplied)

To get a deeper understanding of this unique initiative, this correspondent sat down with Akhila Srinivas, the visionary founder behind Courtyard.

A Journey of Passion and Vision

“I consider myself a complete Bengaluru girl,” says Akhila Srinivas, founder of Courtyard. Though not born in the city, her upbringing in Bengaluru has deeply influenced her. Akhila’s journey is a blend of architecture, urban design, and an innate passion for hospitality.

Akhila Srinivas, founder of Courtyard. (Supplied)

After earning her architecture degree from RV College of Engineering, she pursued a master’s in urban design from Columbia University in New York. Her professional journey saw her practice as an urban designer in India, before taking a break to focus on her family.

In 2018, Akhila’s vision began to take shape. “Running Courtyard and opening smaller projects within it is a dream come true for me,” she reflects.

For Akhila, it was about creating spaces that resonate with the urban fabric of Bengaluru, blending her family’s legacy in hospitality with her expertise in design and architecture.

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Creating Courtyard

Despite its current vibrancy, Courtyard has deep-rooted family connections. “It belongs to my family, but I never grew up here,” Akhila explains.

“It was my husband’s side of the family, and they didn’t want to give it away. When I came along, I saw great potential in the space.”

Courtyard is a space that marries urban design with the warmth of a community hub. (Supplied)

Courtyard is a space that marries urban design with the warmth of a community hub. (Supplied)

Music concerts are held at Courtyard. (Supplied)

Before Courtyard, the space hosted a small cafe, Jagaa, run by Akhila’s husband and his friends. “They realised that running a cafe was not as glamorous as it seemed and went back to their day jobs. I was left holding the fort,” Akhila laughs.

The transition from Jagaa to Courtyard was gradual. After taking a break to have her children, Akhila returned with renewed purpose.

“I had travelled to many cities and experienced how urban spaces could be. I didn’t want to go back to the usual projects. I wanted to create an urban project that truly resonated with the community.” The result was Courtyard, a space that marries urban design with the warmth of a community hub.

The first event at Courtyard was a music concert featuring the legendary Gundecha Brothers from Madhya Pradesh.

“It was a hair-raising experience. The place wasn’t even fully ready, but it was a great start,” Akhila recalls. Since then, Courtyard has hosted a variety of events, from concerts to workshops, becoming a beacon for cultural engagement.

Architectural Marvels

The conservatory is designed to seamlessly blend with its surroundings. (Supplied)

Over time, the Courtyard evolved. “We added a ground floor cafe, a black box room for performances, and after COVID, we opened NARU, a wine bar, and The Conservatory on the rooftop.”

The Conservatory is inspired by the iconic Lal Bagh glasshouse. (Supplied)

One of Courtyard’s standout features is the Conservatory, inspired by Bengaluru’s horticultural history and the iconic Lal Bagh glasshouse.

“We have a 100-year-old raintree that comes over the roof. It was clear we had to create something that honours this beautiful canopy.”
The Conservatory is designed to seamlessly blend with its surroundings, creating a unique experiential space.

Embodying Bengaluru

For Akhila, the Courtyard is quintessentially Bengaluru. “I spent my youth seeking out theatre, arts, and dance. That’s the Bengaluru I know. I felt those neutral, independent spaces were missing as we got older.”

Courtyard aims to be an easy entry point into culture, devoid of barriers. Those neutral, independent spaces where anyone could walk in and experience something new were so important. That’s the Bengaluru I know and love,” Akhila says.

Courtyard aims to recreate that inclusive cultural space, making art and culture accessible to everyone, regardless of their background or expertise.

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Curated Culinary Experiences

Courtyard is also renowned for its culinary events. (Supplied)

Courtyard is also renowned for its culinary events. “Pre-COVID, it was hard to sell pop-up events. The market wasn’t ready.” However, post-COVID, the landscape changed. “People wanted to get out and experience things meaningfully. There’s a hunger for curated experiences now,” Akhila observes. The Conservatory, dedicated to pop-ups, was born out of this renewed interest.

“We had worked with many talented chefs, and the demand was clear. The Conservatory was created to cater to this demand, making it easier for chefs to showcase their talents.”

The chef community played a crucial role. “They owned the space, introduced us to others, and the word spread organically within the community. It was a collaborative effort.”

The Courtyard has become a beloved venue for culinary events. (Supplied)

What sets Courtyard apart is the sense of community. “More than me, the chefs and the community have owned this space. They’ve taken on the onus of making it work,” Akhila says.

As Courtyard continues to evolve, it remains rooted in its mission to be a space where culture, cuisine, and creativity thrive.

“We’re constantly adding new projects and spaces. The house is now being converted into a coffee shop with Subko from Mumbai coming in,” Akhila shares with excitement.

In Akhila Srinivas’s words, “I’m living the dream. My dream was to contribute to the urban landscape, and Courtyard is as good as it gets for me.”

In a city known for its dynamic spirit, Courtyard stands out as a testament to Bengaluru’s rich cultural tapestry. It’s a place where the old and new blend seamlessly, offering a space for curated experiences that are as diverse and vibrant as the city itself.

(Edited by Neena)

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