COLOMBO: The US 1.4 billion State of the Art Colombo Port City (CPC), built by the China Harbor Construction Company (CHCC) in association with the Singapore-based designers Surbana Jurong group and the business advisory group Atkins Acuity, is expected to be South Asia’s commercial and entertainment hub within the next five years.

Spread over 269 hectares of land reclaimed from the sea adjacent to the present commercial district of Colombo, the CPC will be a “Singapore” within Sri Lanka, performing similar functions as a commercial, financial, residential and international entertainment hub.

Being the first such city in South Asia, the CPC will also serve as the South Asian region’s financial, commercial, and entertainment hub.

With land reclamation almost over, plots are now being marketed in the reasonable expectation that the CPC will come alive in about five years, official said.

It will be a “smart and green” city, working under a modern British legal system and not the outdated Sri Lanka legal system, said the Sri Lankan Minister of Megapolis, releasing the CPC’s “Development Control Regulations” at a colorful function here on Tuesday.

Not An Exclusive Preserve

At first glance, the CPC might seem tailored to be an exclusive preserve of the rich, but it is not in reality. In fact it is designed to be accessible to all classes, said Minister Ranawaka.

The CPC’s world class facilities and attractions will be accessible to all sections of society through a well-knit system of accesses to and from the old city. Rail and road links with the mother city of Colombo will make the CPC an integral part of Sri Lanka’s capital.

A noteworthy aspect of the CPC will be facilities for the existence of pollution free non-motorized transport. Every road will be a boulevard, and a network of pedestrian pathways will connect the many public parks which will dot the landscape, said Anandan Karunakaran, Director Urban Planning and Design (Africa and South Asia) at Surbana Jurong Consultants.

Added to the public facilities will be plazas where public events could be held to give the CPC a “24 into 7 vibrancy”, Karunakaran said.

Addressing one of the main concerns of the people of Colombo regarding the continued existence of the popular Galle Face Green recreational area facing the sea, Karunakaran said that a 2 km beach front will be part of the CPC, to which the public will have free access. There will be a Marina, again open to the public from all over.

Besides, the neglected Beira Lake will be developed and linked to a waterway which will course the CPC. The waterway, which will be a visual treat, will have entertainment facilities to give it constant vibrancy.

Adding to the green in the thickly built-up CPC will be podium landscaping in the high rise buildings. Another unique feature will be the facility to go from one building to another through an interconnecting link to enable movement without using a street, pointed out Nihal Fernando of the Urban Development Authority (UDA) which will manage the CPC.

Sustainability and Accountability

Marie Lam Frendo of Atkins Acuity, said that “sustainability” and “accountability” will be key watchwords for those involved in the building and maintenance of the CPC.

There is an “ethical framework” built into the Development Control Regulations (DCR), she said.

Frendo mentioned water management as a key aspect of CPC. Rain water harvesting and underground storage of water are important aspects of the design, she said.

The Minister for Megapolis, Champika Ranawaka said that the CPC will not be an alien implant on Sri Lanka but a blend of modernity and Sri Lanka’s traditional culture.

Cities as Engines of Development

Stressing the need for urban development, Ranawaka said that cities have proved to be the engines of growth in the economic history of countries across the globe.

Urbanization will be a dominant feature of the future, because by 2050, half the world’s population will be living in urban areas, he said.

Therefore countries will have to ensure the proper growth of cities so that these can perform their destined role in economic development, Ranwaka argued. This is why the CPC’s laws are to be based, not on Sri Lankan laws, but on modern British law, the minister added.

Need for Flexibility

Town planner Nihal Fernando said that a unique feature of the CPC is its “flexibility”. As the CPC’s design is to last at least for the next 25 to 30 years, its current design has provisions for changes and adjustments to meet emerging requirements, he said.