Founded by the Custom Circus – a transdisciplinary theater and visual arts company; this 3-hectare venue pioneered the Portuguese avant-garde scene by introducing several successful projects since 2003. Highlighting some of them, the Band Box project – a huge hub of exclusive rehearsal studios gathered the most active musician’s collective in this country, harboring over 200 bands. The Custom Café Theater is the performative corner stone and the heart of the Nirvana Studios community; entirely built and costed by the Custom Circus members, who have already performed in this surreal venue with more than 900 of their signature shows, produced around alternative aesthetics such as Cabaret Rock, Bizarre Chic, Steampunk and Dieselpunk.

It is literally impossible to approach the origin of Nirvana Studios without first addressing the history of its founders, since against all odds, they managed to purchase and transform – from total ruins – this former army fort into the place we know today.

Custom Circus emerged for the first time on the plot of their homonym literary series, first written in 1988; being later brought to reality by the trio Daniela Sousa (Daniella Vol), Michel Alex (Michel Gigolo) and Rui Gago (Dr. Apokalipse) when their paths crossed during productions of Lisbon Capital of Culture 1994.

In a progressive and restless way, the trio specialized around alternative multinational performances. After hundreds of shows within this corporative circuit, they finally decided to adopt in 2002 their code name Custom Circus, a designation that comes from their nomad genesis and the way they parked their convoy of 30 classic theater vehicles in an arena shaped scenery with post-apocalyptic aesthetics.

Such a nomadic vintage theatrical structure required hard maintenance, also stressed by their misfit way of life, thus leading to a necessary survival transition throughout the years. The troupe’s bohemian lifestyle attracted many transdisciplinary artists to the company. Around 2003 emerged the need to harbor their rising entourage and create a community that could also allow the presentation of resident shows between tours, as well as install Custom Circus peripheral road born anarchic projects. Thus, was founded the wild frontier-style Nirvana Studios.

This community didn’t stop growing, attracting more and more artists, bands and other cultural projects in such ways they had to rethink the company’s future and accept a more sedentary way of life. Ultimately, they had to make a difficult choice and sell 95% of their theatrical truck convoy to self-finance the Alternative Cultural Center.

Resiliently loyal to its own imagery, year after year, Nirvana Studios spread its wings in several directions and aiming other strategic and innovative projects on the cultural field, such as:

• STRANGE – Blackbox 360 multipurpose Art Gallery
• Nirvana Boulevard – Indie Movie and Video studios
• Custom Ville – Upcycling Architecture Artistic Residences
• Project UR – Upcycling Architecture Ateliers and Workshops
• Art Express – A container-based platform of micro studios designed for the creative import/export of artistic concepts

All the above linked to several other cultural partnerships which are also propelling Nirvana Studios artists to other projects, collectives and venues.

Nowadays, the community is open year-round 24/7, for its inspiring irreverent path has been attracting visitors, nationally and abroad, mostly due to the original theme architecture and it´s outdoor art gallery. Being the main attraction, the artistic sum this place has consolidated through hundreds of shows, concerts, exhibits and events during the year. Since 2021, Nirvana Studios were recognized and included in the International platform ERIH (European Routes of Industrial Heritage).


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