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The Brigade Group – Home Is Where the Art Is

Brigade Meadows, Brigade Orchards, Brigade Metropolis, Brigade Gateway, Brigade Millennium… Property developers are in the business of creating buildings, but Brigade Group is dedicated to creating experiences. Whether residential or commercial, the company and its founder, Mr M.R. Jaishankar, believe in creating spaces and environments that improve people’s ways of life – a vision which has changed the cityscape of Bangalore.

The Brigade Group, established in 1986, is one of South India’s leading property developers. Their operations span across India, including projects in major cities such as Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, GIFT City Gujarat, Mysore, Mangalore and Chikmagalur, but their most striking projects remain in the city that homes the hub of their operations – Bangalore. Housing their iconic head offices, Bangalore has grown with the Brigade Group, now featuring residential, retail, commercial and hospitality projects designed and built by the group as self-contained environments, all sporting the Brigade name and created in promotion of their ideals.

Challenging Beginnings

Like most companies, the Brigade Group didn’t start at the top; it had a difficult beginning, achieved by the tenacity of their founder. Jaishankar came from a family of coffee planters – a far cry from the urban planting he does today. He grew up in Karnataka in the town of Chikmagalur, where his family name had become synonymous with integrity and hard work for the past 100 years. Whilst their businesses sound a world apart, the lessons about work ethics he learnt here continue to benefit the Brigade Group today.

When Brigade began as an idea, property development in India was a different animal to the one it is today. The industry was disorganised and treated with mistrust; kickbacks and cut corners were commonplace, with companies focusing on short-term profit rather than thinking about the long-term success of their business. In this atmosphere, there were only a few companies attempting to build a different reputation – this was a challenging scenario to enter as a new business, but to Jaishankar’s eyes, the challenge looked like an opportunity: a niche to be filled, and an industry ready to go on the rise, if its needs could be met.

A Tall Order

In 1986, Brigade Investments was founded, with only one project on its slate – an office tower, of which there was only one other of its type in Bangalore. Even then, the company was ambitious, setting out to make the building 14 stories high – the property became known as Brigade Tower.

Looking back on these early yet ambitious beginnings against what they have now achieved, Jaishankar reflects; “From making Bangalore’s tallest commercial building by a private player way back in 1986, to still holding the record with [Bangalore’s] World Trade Center, we believe in creating buildings that leave an impression on time.”

At the time, Bangalore was a city prime for development, yet low on space. People were used to living in houses – one or two story properties with their own land. Jaishankar believed the city was ready to grow and flourish, but without the space, he needed to encourage people to move in the direction they were reluctant to adopt: upwards. Like Brigade Tower, they needed to reach for the sky.

Trying to set a trend for a new way of living is no easy task, especially for a new business. From a Rs. 10 million loan from the State Bank of India (an unheard-of amount for a property development company to receive) they invested in market research and their communication department, focusing on all-India media campaigns to promote their vision, and developed the Brigade Promise. This promise set out assurances of quality free-hold properties, fully cleared by the authorities, with high standards of construction in faster-than-usual delivery time. These were ambitious claims, but the company lived up to its promises, winning the trust and respect that was lacking in the current industry, and their gamble began to pay off. Brigade became the first property developer in South India, and the second in the country, to get an ISO 9001:1994 certification. Later, in 2000, Brigade became an ISO 9001-2000 organisation – among the first property developers to do so in the country.

Homes, Not Houses

However, such assurances alone weren’t enough to change people’s way of life or inspire a developing city. The Brigade Group is about more than creating houses and shops – it is about creating homes and ways of life.

“We strongly believe that the buildings we make should also positively impact the communities around them,” expresses Jaishankar. “Whether it is our famed integrated enclaves like Brigade Millennium, Brigade Metropolis and Brigade Gateway, or a best-in-class World Trade Center and the much-loved Orion Mall, we work hard to ensure that once you move in, you experience a life on a par with some of the best cities in the world.”

“My vision and objective through my company is not just building better homes or offices…but providing a better quality of life for people who use them, through the development of world-class neighbourhoods that will enrich the lives of anyone living or working within these self-contained environments.”

Overseeing the Brigade Groups’ commercial business is Vishal Mirchandani, CEO of Retail and Commercial. Mirchandani shares the group’s vision of creating self-contained living experiences, and has been spear-heading the Group’s ever ambitious plans for growth in these areas. New malls and retail arcades have been added to most of Brigade’s self-made districts which include the Orion Mall at Brigade Gateway, Orion OMR Mall at Brigade Golden Triangle, the Arcade at Brigade Metropolis, the Arcade in Brigade Meadows and upcoming Arcade at Brigade Orchards.

Under Mirchandani’s leadership, the Orion Mall, the second largest mall in Bangalore, has grown to become one of the leading malls in the country, and its popularity is still growing. It has won several awards, and has been acclaimed as one of India’s best managed malls – quite an achievement in a country of India’s size. This mall has also been an entry gate for many premium international brands in South India.

With a little over 5 years in Brigade Group, Mirchandani has played a key role in positioning Brigade Group as one of the country’s leading commercial developers, and has seen the size of their office space portfolio gradually rise by more than 300 percent to over 12 Million sq. ft. in various stages of development. Standing out in this portfolio, the Brigade Group has developed the iconic World Trade Center Bangalore and Kochi and has licences to develop three more World Trade Centers in Chennai, Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram.

These World Trade Centers provide the best corporate addresses in their cities, and are part of Brigade’s aggressive growth plan for the office business across their geographies, which will include tech parks that will offer work lifestyles to the employees. Another part of these plans is the development of Brigade Tech Gardens in Brookefield, Bangalore. The largest office space development by Brigade Group, the gardens are a joint venture between the company and GIC Singapore, whilst the master planning is being done by Seattle based architecture firm NBBJ. The project, like all of Brigade’s corporate spaces, aims to offer the best to companies and their employees both in terms of work spaces and lifestyle.
There are several elements behind the Brigade Group’s success. Perhaps the most important is people. From the offset, they have employed top professionals in their fields. “We go to great lengths to partner with some of the best-known architects, master planners, contractors, suppliers and consultants in the industry, to ensure you get a high-quality product. Our demanding recruitment standards also mean that you have a team of highly-qualified professionals who are motivated to take the company to new heights.”

This strong team is coupled with the provision of strong tools in the form state-of-the-art technology, which benefits both their employees and clients. “We are known in the industry for having a hunger to learn and adapt new technology. We were among the first to use in-house pre-cast technology, introduce an online portal to track your project progress and payments and create an online booking platform for home-buying.”

From these, the Brigade Group offer something everyone wants – a good product. Their residential properties are customisable and unique, offered on a built-to-suit and ready-to-occupy basis. Meanwhile, their retail projects are built in strategic locations, carefully planned to generate footfall whilst satisfying visitors with convenient access, imaginative architecture and a well-balanced brand mix. As for their office spaces, Brigade has created some of the best addresses the regions it operates in, providing suitable options for companies of all sizes.

Home Is Where the Art Is

Despite their vast output and success, the Brigade Group aren’t a corporate machine – they are a group of professionals who are passionate about architecture, beauty, and with that, art. There is art in everything they do, from landscaping to interiors to selling, both in the details and process of their design, and more recently, quite literally present in murals. Artists in Karnataka were commissioned to create murals on many of their buildings, both in commercial venues and offices, and this embrace of art has now spread into Brigade Group’s own head offices – sketches, paintings, photographs and even sculptures fill the building, with their doors always open to members of the public who wish to come in and appreciate them.

This artistic bent is reflected in the Group’s creative architecture and livable, lovable environments. While creating these positive environments, the Brigade Group also invests in the betterment of the society. For example, they supported the re-development of the 3-acre Sangolli Rayanna Park in Subramanya Nagar, Malleswaram, and also redeveloped 24 acres Sitharampalya lake in Whitefield, Bangalore and in keeping with their passion for the arts, assisted the creation of India’s first interactive music museum, the Centre for Indian Music Experience (IME). They have also renovated playgrounds, police stations, churches and lakes.

The Future

The Brigade Group are currently working on projects in eight different cities, but their main focus remains on Bangalore, which they will continue to develop alongside themselves.

“I aim to make Brigade Group a world-class organisation and a name to reckon with in the property development …We intend to continue to focus on innovation and maintain our present momentum on all fronts. We also intend to continue to use technologically advanced tools, in order to continue to enhance our architectural, design, construction and development capabilities.”

The early, ambitious Brigade Investments was dissolved in 1997, and all of the Group’s operations were consolidated by merging them into Brigade Enterprises Pvt Ltd in 2004. What started out as a five-person team has grown to over 1000 people strong, achieving what they set out to do by the values set down at the beginning, despite the challenges along the way. Having started out as a new company in an untrusted market, trying to convince wary people to embrace a new way of living, Brigade are now the first word in creating enviable habitats that the people of Bangalore and South India can rely on.