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Colombo Port City leads with Urban Design Idea Competition

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Design competitions should be made a practice for all landmark projects in Sri Lanka, according to the President of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA), D. H Wijewardene.

President of the Architects Association, the Secretary of the Megapolis Ministry and Director Planning of CHEC Port City Colombo discussing the winning idea.

He was speaking at the award ceremony of the International Conceptual Urban Design Idea Competition for the Financial District and Marina of the Colombo Port City, held last week at the Cinnamon Grand, Colombo.

“When you have design competitions, you get the most important, most valuable ideas into the system, that way we must thank the Port City project team, the director and all the other officials for taking this step; rather than selecting one consultancy firm, which is the normal pattern,” he said in comments released to the media by the Colombo Port City.

The SLIA President, who was Guest of Honour at the ceremony added, “design competitions have become a world trend today as it helps to get different options and wider perspectives for a project and helps the project initiators to get an opportunity to see most suitable and viable design solutions”.

The release said that the Port City Urban Design Idea competition was supported by the SLIA and sanctioned by the International Union of Architects (UIA). Conducted under UIA guidelines, the competition was opened to three of the world’s top architectural firms Nikken Sekkei of Japan, Gensler headquartered in San Francisco and Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM) which also hails from the US. The competition commenced in the beginning of March after which the participants visited the site for the first time towards the end of the same month. The final inquiries and clarifications were concluded by April and all designs submitted in mid May. The judging process was completed a few days later and the results announced less than two weeks after the final decision was made, naming SOM the winner.

Lim Kian Siew, Director of Planning and Development of CHEC Port City Colombo said that, whilst the competition was an important milestone for the entire project, there was a specific reason why it was contained to the financial district and the marina. “It is because these areas are common to the whole of Colombo Port City and more importantly they are directly connected and related to the existing Fort area.”

Head of the elite panel of top international jurors who judged the competition Dr. Deborah Dearing was quoted as saying that the decision to award SOM as the winner was unanimous. She says that whilst all the submissions had worthy ideas there was a distinctive difference in the way SOM had approached the project, which was visible in the way they had laid out streets, the sort of buildings they used, community facilities as well as opportunities for growth and implementation.

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