Urban project of the future for Colombo

A masterplan which will create a new skyline and see 269 hectares of reclaimed land next to Colombo’s CBD transformed into an innovative destination for culture, commerce, and tourism in South Asia is set to become a reality.

The plan by architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) and landscape architects Grant Associates for a new finance and marina district for the Sri Lankan city was selected as the winner by an international jury which praised their demonstration of “exceptional sensitivity to the ecological and cultural context of Sri Lanka.”

The $1.4 billion urban project will be able to accommodate 40,000 residents and visitors, and is expected to be complete in 2041.

 A $1.4 billion project in Colombo is set to be a innovative destination for culture, commerce and tourism. Image credit - SOM.

A $1.4 billion project in Colombo is set to be a innovative destination for culture, commerce and tourism. Image credit - SOM.

The development was inspired by Sri Lanka’s tropical climate and varied landscape, and will feature a marina, new harbour, canals, walkways, a series of public parks, central plaza, squares, and gardens, as well as creating a new skyline of skyscrapers for Colombo.

A central civic plaza was inspired by hanging gardens, and will include shaded promenades which circle a new city marina, as well as inlets around a canal which reference the lagoons of Sri Lanka’s coastline.

The buildings in the precinct will feature green roofs, and the carparks will be shaded by trees.

 The finance and marina district is set for completion in 2041. Image credit - SOM.

The finance and marina district is set for completion in 2041. Image credit - SOM.

Colombo’s new finance and marina district aims to reduce carbon emissions by being pedestrian-friendly, as well as including cycle lanes and public transport. Infrastructure for rainwater harvesting will be incorporated, and the development will be protected from rising sea levels by a three-kilometre-long offshore breakwater.

 An international jury praised the project’s demonstration of “exceptional sensitivity to the ecological and cultural context of Sri Lanka.” Image credit - SOM.

An international jury praised the project’s demonstration of “exceptional sensitivity to the ecological and cultural context of Sri Lanka.” Image credit - SOM.

Director at Grant Associates, Andrew Grant, says that, “a varied and engaging public realm was a key part of the design brief for Port City Colombo. Working in close collaboration with SOM, our aim was to create a sequence of spaces that complement Colombo’s unique geological character while integrating the new cityscape into the fabric of the existing city.”

It is hoped that a new cultural venue at the waterfront will encourage people into the area, adding life to the area while preserving Sri Lanka’s natural ecology.