Ground-level living in the sky

Friday, 13 December 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Units now up for grabs of the world’s tallest residential vertical garden ‘Clear Point Residencies’ Kotte
  • First of its kind sustainable high-rise apartment complex to finish construction in 2016
  • Hopes to achieve ROI in 2014
By Cheranka Mendis Sri Lanka’s first ever sustainable high-rise apartment complex Clear Point Residencies, which is also deemed to be the world’s tallest residential vertical garden, is now selling units after a gala launch Tuesday evening. The Rs. 6 billion development project is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka and is a 46-storey structure accommodating 164 bedrooms with four apartments per level. Having attracted a staggering response both at the launch and the morning after, Architect Milroy Perera, under whose eyes the building was designed and developed, is confident that the Return on Investment (ROI) of the project could be earned back very soon, possibly within the next few months. Perera noted that one buyer even showed interest in purchasing 28 apartments on the whole. As a special feature, any buyer that purchases two apartments receives a tempting 30x13, 4ft private plunge pool. Another surprising fact that was revealed was that the majority of inquires came from returning Sri Lankan expats. Designed in an unique eco-friendly approach by Perera and his team of environmentally conscious architects of Milroy Perera Associates Ltd., together with Maga Engineering Ltd., the complex has been drawn up with large terraces filled with plants and greenery, creating a sensation of ground-level living with the panoramic views of a high-rise abode. With self-sustaining gardens and energy-saving systems, Clear Point Residences, addresses the usual modern conveniences of apartment-living by providing privacy on an open terrace and a tranquil environment within a bustling city. Why the tallest tower? After a wait of five years to get all approvals in place, construction for the single tower in Kotte stated in June this year and is now steadily progressing. A single development, the tower has been planned using careful calculations Perera said in an interview with Daily FT. A long standing dream to create sustainable living, Perera noted: “You cannot achieve dreams now without calculations. The height of the tower comes from that.” Having included the land, building, value addition and amenity costs as well taking in to consideration the need for space and going by their usual four units per level rule, the number of stories were decided upon, he said. “There are so many common amenities offered by competitors,” he added. Clear Point will be offering fully fledged tennis, badminton and squash courts along with a fully equipped gymnasium among others.  Sustainability is key With sustainability as its core, the structure has been designed in an approach that has a minimum impact on the adjoining environment while offering luxurious living in an urban location. “This was part of the dream,” Perera revealed. Having being involved in developing the famous Kandalama Hotel in Dambulla over 20 years ago, Perera noted that the thought of developing something that is equally sustainable was always on his mind. “Then, sustainability was at fairly elementary levels. Today things have evolved and people are more conscious about environment.” But Sri Lanka is not a great polluter anyhow, he added. “Even if we increase cars on the street by another two million, we will not qualify as a great polluter. It was and is part of our culture.” The word ‘green’ however has now become stale. “It has been commercialised and sold to people. We try to stay away from calling ourselves green.” A garden in the sky Speaking on the what inspired the garden concept inspired, Perera stated that various factors were taken in to consideration to finally decide to go with a “tropicalised, Sri Lankanised” building. Generally in a high rise, if one takes ten steps back from the window what can be viewed is the sky, and if you are lucky you just might see a cloud pass by, he said. “There was actually an illness called the high-rise blues created by staring at the sky. In England when they started high rise buildings in the 1960s people soon got tired of it and suicide rates went up, because they had nothing to do other than stare at the sky,” he added. “All this has been taken into account world over.” Perera himself is an avid lover of plants. “I love trees!” he enthused. A variety of plants and trees that are currently on the extinct list will be planted on the terraces. “What we are trying to do is create a situation where you don’t have to change your lifestyle at all, you get all the luxuries you want and in addition you get a feeling that you are on ground level.” Reducing its carbon foot print Several features help make the building sustainable. In a significant step towards sustainable development and energy conservation, Clear Point will use solar panels to produce electricity for communal areas, while the additional electricity will be sold to the CEB national grid via a net metering system. “We have cut back the intake of electricity from the national grid by 40% with the use of some 13,000 square feet of solar panels.” They will also recycle the building’s grey water – i.e. water collected from bathroom sinks and showers. They water will be recycled and purified to be less than 10 BOD (Bio Oxygen Demand) and by doing so, they manage to cut another 40% off the national water grid. The treated water will also be used for drip irrigation. All trees and plants will be automatically watered using a computer controlled system. Moreover, rain water will be harvested and solid waste disposed efficiently. The design of the apartments with its large terraces also support the cause, as the plants will create a green cover and provide a natural cooling system (no heat gain), while also acting as a buffer for noise, dust and producing fresh natural oxygen for residents. Timing and demand “It was fate,” Perera asserted. “When we did Kandalama we always had an idea to do this kind of thing but never had the opportunity to do it. Today the opportunity exists and the time is also right. Things have changed. People want to buy.” If it is the right kind of apartment or residence there is always a market for it. Those that are not easily sold are either badly built or are in the wrong place. “A person looking to buy an apartment is not just looking for a place to buy; it is a way of life which is higher than anything else they own.” Certain forums have raised the question of the supply and demand of apartment complexes – with so many residential towers coming in, who will buy the products? This is likely to change with development in the country, he said. “How long are we going to stay the way we are now? We want to progress. Towns are just shooting up and we are going in to the sea here. We are looking at land. I am architect; I have a responsibility to my country.” Prior projects The design firm has previously been involved in the construction of The Fairway and Fairmount Residencies in Kotte, as well as the conceptual design of Sky Gardens. In all these residences, emphasis has been placed on spacious living spaces and breath-taking views, and Clear Point will be no exception to this design philosophy. However, with Clear Point, in addition to having a beautiful home in a serene environment one will also be playing a part in contributing to environmental conservation and sustainable living. They were also the local consultants for the British High Commission building, and under its portfolio boast Kandalama Hotel in Dambulla, Blue Waters Hotel in Wadduwa and Access Towers in Union Place among others.