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Tall Storeys | High-rise living in Colombo:

Tall Storeys
High-rise living in Colombo:
by Rukshana Rizwie

Still under construction, Colombo's Lotus Tower at D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha, currently measuring over 292 meters, is already the most visible landmark in the capital. When completed in October 2017, it will stand as the tallest structure in the whole of South Asia at 350 meters.

The Lotus Tower however has competition. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), a global body in the field of tall buildings and sustainable urban design, the tallest proposed building in Colombo is the Al-Aman World Capital Centre. This business and financial hub would rise to a staggering height of 625 meters and 111 storeys above ground level.




"That's the problem with all these skyscrapers that are mushrooming in the capital. We don't know which one would come up next or in what form. It begs the question, 'do we have a plan?'" asked Dr. Janaka Wijesundara, Director at the Program of Urban Design, Department of Architecture, University of Moratuwa.

According to the database maintained by the CTBUH, there are only two buildings over 150m in Colombo which is the World Trade Centre Towers. There are four under construction including Altitude at 383 meters, Altair at 240 meters, the mixed development ITC One Colombo 1 at 225 and Clear point Residencies at 186 meters.

The two proposed buildings which would soar even further than Altitude are the Al-Aman World Capital Centre and Krrish Square Tower (420 meters).

"Based on a comparative study we did of tall buildings in cities around the world, we found that there were stringent criteria that were used for the approval and construction of high rise housing and mixed developments, which we felt should be incorporated here," said Dr. Wijesundara.

This process of re-development which is changing the Colombo skyline needs to be well studied," Dr. Rangajeewa Rathnayake Head, Department of Town and Country Planning and Senior Lecturer at the University of Moratuwa said. He referred to the City of Colombo Development Amendment of 2008 which is meant to promoting and regulating the integrated planning and physical development in Colombo as requiring urgent upgrades. "Our zoning regulations are generic. We need cluster specific guidelines and one that suits this city."

Rising temperatures
Dr. Rathnayake explained that when there are too many towering high rise buildings in a given location, the natural air circulation is disturbed which could lead to higher density which will in turn lead to an 'urban heat island'

The 'Heat Island' effect is a phenomenon that occurs when a city is significantly warmer than rural surrounding areas due to human activities. "Development alters the landscape and increases energy use. As a result there is more radiation trapped in roads and buildings and more waste is produced since people consume more energy. The only way to combat this is to have roofs that are reflective or covered in greenery, which is how it's done in countries like Singapore but not here," he said.

Waste generation and parking spaces

Another issue which arises from an increase in high rise projects is waste management both trash and sewage becoming a problem as densities increase. The city's sewage pipelines were not designed to cope with the huge volume of waste from a 70 story tower, garbage collection must also be standardized in order to cope with vertical townships.

Parking and traffic are additional factors - many of Colombo's residential projects appear to lack parking facilities, and vehicles are parked on already narrow roads increasing congestion.

Even where parking is adequate road access is an issue with the flow of vehicles into and out of large blocks disrupting traffic flow on main roads.

The Urban Development Authority, however states that stringent procedures and process are followed particularly with regard to high rise buildings. "The reason why the high rise structures appear as if it is happening in a haphazard manner is simply because they are all desperately trying to stick to a plan on where they can and cannot build," said Mahinda Withanachchi, Director of Projects at the UDA. "We follow the City of Colombo Development Amendment Act 2008 which clearly states the many areas where we cannot allow high rise buildings to come up."

He added that the guidelines were clear and conformity to it was compulsory. "When a developer comes to us for approval, it is not merely the UDA which decides but a Colombo Planning Committee which comprises experts and others from across the board."

As part of this committee he added there were members from the Road Development Authority, the UDA, Board of Investment, Coast Conservation and other experts who were well acquainted with planning and development of high risers. "Once the construction is complete, the developer has to revert to this committee to obtain a Certificate of Conformity, which we are very particular about," said Withanachchi.

He added that the prior to granting the Certificate of Conformity, officers from the UDA and other institutions would visit the site for an inspection and to assess if the developer had kept to the initial plan submitted.

"There are so many condominiums which had violated this rule and we took them to courts demanding that the building be demolished," he said. "We intend to take many more in the coming months as we take stock of the developers who are deviating from the original plans."

He added that there were two classifications, minor and major deviations.

"If the matter is a minor deviation, we might only fine the developer, but if it is a major deviation, we will take them to courts. At the same time, we will not offer them the certificate which means that the construction is illegal."

He added that there are many residents in Colombo who had paid hefty sums for apartments and are now without proper deeds because the UDA had not granted the certificate since the developer had deviated from the approved plan.

[How to set up a condominium in Colombo]
* Preliminary approval from the Urban Development Authority

* Local Authority approval of plan and supporting documents

* A Certificate of Conformity can be obtained after construction

based on the approved plan

* Collection of documents from Condominium Management

Authority (CMA)

* Submission for obtaining one of the three CMA certificates

* After this process the Condominium Management Authority

takes over

* After submission of necessary documents to CMA, developer

has to coordinate with CMA officials

* There will be a field inspection by engineers, technical officers.

* The construction will be cross checked with the declaration and

Condominium plan.

* The documents are then handed over to the committee coordinators

who will pass it on to the Colombo Planning Committee.

This will be followed by a check by UDA officials and site engineers

* There will be a final committee approval

* Issuance of CMA certificate

* Registration of Condominium Deed of Declaration

Source: Condominium Management Authority/UDA

[Warning notice ]
To buyers of Condominium properties

The Condominium Management Authority has observed that certain unscrupulous individuals and organizations who claim to be condominium developers seek a cash despoit from public to reserve an apartment in the Condominium that they proposed to develop.

The general public is advised to request the developer to furnish the following information and data to prospective buyers before

any payment is made.

This includes


Copy of Deeds

Ownership certificate issued by the local authority

Copy of the street line certificate issued by the local authority

Preliminary clearance letter issued by the CMA

Building plan approval and development permit issued by the UDA or Local authority

Other areas potential buyers need to investigate:

Storm water drainage system - weather the Central Environment Authority approval available or obtained.

Arrangement made by the developer for water, electricity, sewersystem, generators and back up system for water and electricity.

Parking facilities for the Condominium parcels

Period of construction

Anticipated date of issuing deeds

For inquires call the CMA on 0112447429 or 0112247432

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Colombo Innovation Tower kicks off

Colombo Innovation Tower kicks off

Monday, 4 July 2016 | Daily FT

Located in prime Colombo, bordering Duplication Road and off the R A De Mel Mawatha, Bauddhaloka Mawatha intersection, Colombo Innovation Tower is a building spanning 20 floors and 120,000 sq ft, with a modern car park system plus A-grade office complexes that is set to house one of the most futuristic office spaces that Colombo’s innovative companies will want to join.

The project due to be completed in July 2018 opens its call for potential tenants who would want to be housed in this unique space. Here, Founder of the project and this unique concept Linda Speldewinde speaks about the vision behind the project:

Q: Why did you think that Colombo needs an Innovation Tower?

A: The project primarily delivers to an identified need for a modern way of working that Sri Lanka’s new generation understands and will demand for in the future to come.

Sri Lankan companies today and we who live in today’s commercial space know that we may be physically located in Sri Lanka but are very much a part of a global community and a modern world that thinks differently and a world that we need to be wired in to, in order to deliver to it.

Q: Can you explain more about this new way of working that the Innovation Tower promotes to Sri Lanka?

A: The modern way of working is geared to technology, interdisciplinary work, collaboration and it also lies between the physical and the virtual worlds. This is the work philosophy that the Colombo Innovation Tower delivers. The building itself will be a demonstration to that and it will enable a modern way of working so the new generation will want to work in and the building along with all the technical infrastructure geared to deliver to that.

This brings me to another aspect of the building concept which is that, it recognises that for great things to happen in today’s world that different industries, ideas and disciplines need to be brought together; which is why this space will look to select and curate a diverse and ambitious community of companies that drive innovation and are geared up to embrace a future that will ensure success in a modern world.

Q: Will it reflect the modern buildings around the world or does it have another plan?

A: The Innovation Tower not necessarily built on becoming a brick-and-mortar architectural monument. It has a more contemporary approach which focuses on the concept of creating a carefully designed and curated ‘experience’ which is altogether a new concept. The exterior is modern and slick and lends us to drive this innovative concept...but piper focus is the synergy of creativity, innovation and collaboration that happens inside the building.

Q: What kind of companies will be part of this new vision?

A: The companies we select to be part of this modern work community will include fast growing global businesses that are housed in Sri Lanka or want to set up here, home grown companies that drive innovation from various sectors, individual companies and companies that are recognised as some of the most inspiring and influential makers of product and new technologies like the apparel and software sector, to give some examples.

At the same time, AOD which serves as the creative nucleus for design in Sri Lanka will be in close proximity; this will allow all the others to engage with the contemporary design and innovation driven energy that it creates. In the modern community innovation comes from being open to emerging ideas and breakthroughs from different fields; which is why this community needs to be carefully created. We have just put out a call for companies interested to get in touch.

Q: What kind of space will the Colombo Innovation Tower have?

A: In terms of the scope of the building, it will not just be a brick and mortar space; it’s the experience of the building and what it will deliver is what the companies we want to be part of it would embrace. Everything we will be doing in that space would be designed to help its tenants flourish and succeed in the modern economy and also enable them to unlock the future creative potential of their people by giving them access to an inspiring work space. The building will be creative accelerator in that sense and will indeed be a workplace and a venue for thinkers, entrepreneurs, and businesses that are innovation led.

Q: What does the building offer to help the operations in it exactly?

A: The building recognises the modern work world and the habits of the emerging and future corporate generations. For example, things that promote the wellbeing of your team are and should be recognised as a core deliverable by organisations today. The project recognises this and support its tenants to deliver to this and know that a person’s performance is at the heart of everything they do and we know that feeling good is essential in making great work, and therefore the building will we provide a regular series of activities to support well being. Yoga classes, Run clubs etc.

It also recognises the need for exposure that Sri Lankan teams need and the requirement to broaden their horizons; therefore it would be offering a program that gives our members or tenants access to leading thinkers, innovators, entrepreneurs through hosting an inspiring year round series of talks, exhibitions, live music, film screenings and more that will truly wire professionals to a global community.

Recognising that food is another important factor and understanding that good eating habits can bring a community together while supporting a creative and productive working day, we will be looking to house an accessible in-house restaurant that promotes and delivers to that.

All this is part of the emerging work culture where work takes a holistic approach that looks after the well-being of workers and the work output becomes an incredible one in relation to that too.

Q: How will you scout the kind of companies who will be part of the Innovation Tower? Will there be particular criteria?

A: We are looking to build a diverse ecosystem of innovative organisations that are capable of having a collaborative and synergistic relationship with the world around them and who are at the intersection of their different fields. We are hoping to have 80% our tenants on this basis and the balance 20% will be housed because of the work they do like design studios, innovation labs, venture capital and other such organisations.

Q: How would one find out more about the project?

A: We have just put out a call for potential tenants and we have just started discussions with interested parties. Therefore, anyone interested in collaborating with us, renting space or contributing to the space can get in touch with us on 0115867772/3
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