In The Press

US firm wins design competition held for the China-funded and executed Colombo Port City


SOM won the Design Idea International Competition for its ability to combine modernity with the tradition and culture of Sri Lanka.
The Port City is being built by the China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) Port City Colombo (Private) Ltd.
Explaining why the award was given to SOM, Jury Chairperson Dr. Deborah Dearing said - “Though there were similarities between the various modules presented by the contestants, what really convinced us was the effort by the winning participant to understand the local culture, community trends, and its people and most importantly plans to preserve the local heritage.”
“Understanding of these elements not only reflects the innovativness and expertise of the firm but also shows the resilience of the plan that will not only help to build a sustainable vibrant city but is flexible enough to embrace local culture and its people,” she said.
Dr. Dearing is the District Commissioner of Greater Sydney Commission with over 30 years of international experience in urban design and strategic land-use planning.

SOM’s Awesome Reputation

SOM has completed over 10,000 projects around the United States and in more than 50 other countries around the world. Among its iconic creations are Burj Khalifa which, with a height of 2722 ft, is the tallest man-made structure ever built. SOM has also built the 1,776 ft Freedom Tower in Manhattan, New York City.
Commenting on winning the Colombo Port City design competition, SOM said':' We were inspired by the intensity and vibrancy of this unique place which has the potential to have a significant impact on the global stage. Port City Colombo is reminiscent of many megaprojects world-wide and this initiative has the opportunity to lift the spirit of an emerging nation.”
“This endeavor will catalyze inward investment from abroad yet also offer new opportunities for local people to improve their quality of life. We look forward to developing the vision further in the next round of work at both the architectural and city-district scales.”

Internationally Approved Yardstick

The International Urban Design Idea Competition was held with the sanction of the International Union of Architects (UIA). The competition regulations were in accordance with the Union of International Architects (UIA)-UNESCO Guidelines for International Design Competitions, a non-governmental organization that employs a global federation of national associations of architects, with the support of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA)
The parameters on which the contestants were judged were - space and green strategy, skyline and height controls, accessibility & connectivity, pedestrian traffic, urban spatial quality, local cultural and heritage context, infrastructure and sustainability with the guidance from UIA.
Apart from Dr.Dearing, the panel of top international jurors comprised, Prof. David Dernie is a Chartered Architect, Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of Faculty of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Westminster, UK; Calvin Tsao an acclaimed practitioner with leading voice and a representative of contemporary architecture from New York; Prof. Harris Trevor Gordon Stuart representing UIA is the co-founder of Harris – Kjisik Architects, an influential urban and architectural design practice in Finland; and Ar/Plnr Pali Wijeratne representing Sri Lanka Institute of Architects, a highly qualified Sri Lankan architect and town planner with over 50 years of experience in conservation.
Organized by the China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) Port City Colombo (Private) Ltd, the competition had attracted three world class design firms Gensler, Nikken Sekkei and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM).
Reflecting on their experience, Nikken Sekkei said - “We are really pleased to be able to contribute to the development of Colombo. We feel that there is a huge potential to develop Colombo and Sri Lanka as a South Asian hub, with culture-climate oriented design, using advanced planning and architectural technology.”
Gensler felt that the Ideas Competition is unique and explores the future of a World Class City. “We collaborated with Arup, a world renowned engineering firm and !melk, an innovative landscape firm to create a world class guest experience. Together we pushed the envelope of Research and Innovation on the project.” Gensler said.
Lim Kian Siew, Director of Planning and Development of CHEC Port City Colombo said - “It was exciting to witness some of the world’s best talents at work and the innovative concepts presented by the participants. There was deep thinking and understanding of the project concept and the proposals displayed their ingenuity and expertise. We initiated this competition to encourage and empower architects around the world to develop innovative and sustainable future ready urban plans for the Financial District and the Marina of Port City Colombo. This is part of our ambition to bring in the world’s best talent to design and Build a World Class City for South Asia.”

What is Colombo Port City?

Port City Colombo is a brand new city development built as an extension of the existing Colombo CBD with an initial investment of US$1.4 billion and an expected US$15billion overall investment when completed.
Spanning 269 hectares, it is a sea reclamation project joined to the current central business district. Port City Colombo is made up of five different precincts which is the Financial District, Central Park Living, Island Living, The Marina and the International Island.
When completed Colombo Port City will have some 5.65 million square meters of build up space, boasting some of the best in design in terms of Grade A offices, Medical Facilities, Educational Facilities, Integrated Resort, Marina, Retail Destinations, Hotels and various Lifestyle Developments. Using the latest sustainable city design and smart city concepts, Port City Colombo will be the hub of South Asia.

The CHEC Port City Colombo Pvt.Ltd.

The CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd, through China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC), is part of the China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC). Incorporated in 2006, CCCC is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and currently employs over 110,000 employees, with presence in 135 countries and regions. CCCC is the world leader in port design and construction, road and bridge design and construction, dredging, container crane and heavy machinery manufacturing. In addition, CCCC is also vastly experienced in building construction and is a major real estate investor and developer.
For the financial year ending December 2015, CCCC recorded a revenue of US$ 67.7 billion with total assets of US$ 140 billion. CCCC was ranked 110th among Fortune 500 companies in 2016 and ranked 3rd on ENR Top International Contractor in 2016.
Among its illustrious accomplishments are the designing of five out of ten of the world’s largest container terminals and cross-sea bridges. CCCC has been actively involved with the development of Sri Lanka since 1998, executing massive construction projects, such as the Southern Highway, Outer Circular Highway, Hambantota Port, Mattala International Airport, Colombo South Container Terminal and many other major infrastructure projects.
(The featured image at the top shows experts, Pali Wijeratne, Calvin Tsao, Dr. Deborah Dearing, Prof. Harris, Trevor Gordon Stuart, Prof. David Dernie)