June 19, 2018

Ecoscape UK

SOM masterplan for Colombo, Sri Lanka features designs by Grant Associates


Architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has won an international competition to design a new finance and marina district for Sri Lanka’s largest city Colombo with a masterplan created in collaboration with Grant Associates.

Backed by the China Communication Construction Company (CCCC), the scheme will see the transformation of 269 hectares of reclaimed land next to Colombo’s Central Business District (CBD), and aims to create a landmark destination for commerce, tourism, and culture in South Asia.

Featuring a marina, canals and a sequence of public parks, the masterplan will feature a ‘new skyline’ of skyscrapers that is visible from different viewpoints across the city.

In addition, walkways and a central plaza will extend around the edges of the new marina, creating a varied public realm that connects to Colombo’s main port and the historic Galle Face Green recreation ground.

Inspired by Sri Lanka’s geography, ecology and tropical climate, SOM conceived the Port City masterplan concept with Grant Associates acting as consultant landscape architect.

SOM and Grant Associates’ vision was selected as the unanimous winner by an international jury, which commented that the scheme demonstrated ‘exceptional sensitivity to the ecological and cultural context of Sri Lanka’.

The new district is expected to complete in 2041.

Andrew Grant, Director at Grant Associates, comments: “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.”

Design details:

Sri Lanka’s varied landscape and complex tropical climate form the key design inspirations for the Port City Colombo masterplan. The squares, canal edges, gardens, a new harbour, and a new city park take cues from the local environment to create a public realm that is rooted in the country’s unique geography and ecology.

Inspired by hanging gardens, the central civic plaza features shaded promenades that encircle a new city marina at the waterfront. The locally inspired design approach is also apparent along the canal edge promenade, where inlets of varying character reference the lagoons of Sri Lanka’s rich and characterful coastline.

A new cultural venue placed at the seafront and immediately adjacent to the CBD of Port City Colombo will encourage people to gravitate toward the waterfront and create an iconic backdrop to the marina.

High rise buildings produce a new skyline for Port City Colombo, helping to forge a strong sense of identity for the district that is visible from key points across the city.


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