From Milan to London to Paris and numerous points in between, over the years we’ve taken a look at a few vertical gardens — some legitimate "plantscrapers," if you will — that add a much needed dash of greenery to cityscapes that are otherwise dominated by steel, glass, concrete, and a whole lot of grey. Now comes a residential high-rise project located just outside of the Sri Lankan port city of Colombo — with a population of over 750,000, it’s the island-bound nation’s largest — that, when completed in 2016, will boast the tallest residential vertical garden in all of Asia (take that, Singapore!) and, as the building's marketing team would have us believe, in the entire world.
Rising 46-stories above the tributaries of Diywanna Lake in the suburb of Rajagiriya and topped with a swooping, solar panel-clad rooftop, Clearpoint Residencies — the 146-unit complex was designed in partnership by Sri Lanka-based architectural firm Milroy Perara Associates and Maga Engineering — appears to emerge from the tropical landscape like a giant stack of plant-enshrouded Jenga blocks.
The designer's aim is to offer sophisticated urban living in a serene countryside setting, harking back to the days of yore when one could pluck fruits from the garden and learn firsthand about the birds and butterflies that would frequent it. Clearpoint Residencies have built in processors which will reduce your carbon footprint and more importantly reduce the maintenance cost across the board. We believe that inhabiting this living tower will be more cost effective than any residence you have lived in before due to the carefully thought out additions that have been provided.
Key to the design of Clearpoint Residencies, an ambitious, long-delayed project billed as the “first sustainable high-rise in Sri Lanka," are oversized, heavily planted terraces that completely circle the building and prevent harsh sunlight from entering through the windows of each individual unit. Explains the Clearpoint website: “One of the main reasons for heat gain within an apartment is the fact that all apartments in Sri Lanka have windows which are directly exposed to sunlight. To counter this effect, we have consciously designed our entire building with windows that do not receive direct sunlight."
Simple enough. Given that each apartment unit comes equipped with a shady, entertaining-perfect lanai completely populated by fruit trees and others forms of cover vegetation, the need for energy-intensive air conditioning is significantly decreased. Plus, there are other obvious perks to living in a building clad in plants: polluted outdoor air is cleaned and filtered, external and internal sounds are absorbed, and radiant heat is buffered. Essentially, the planted terraces help to transform the entire structure into a giant, magnificent-looking sponge.
And, of course, there’s also the opportunity for residents to plant their own fruit and veggies from the comfort of their own homes. In a 2013 profile of the project published in English-language Sri Lankan newspaper, The Island, Milroy Perera hints that a majority of the flora gracing the slender frame of the structure will be endangered in and endemic to Sri Lanka including 400 native mango trees spread throughout the floors.
In lieu of a sprinkler system, the building’s green façade will be fed via an automatic drip irrigation system. The water used for irrigation will be a mix of rainwater collected at ground level and treated greywater collected through the building’s sinks and showers (in addition to irrigation, the recycled water will also be used for toilet flushing).
What’s more, the building’s communal spaces, elevators, and the greywater recycling system will all be powered by the rooftop solar array with any excess energy produced by the building being sold back to the grid. A comprehensive solid waste recycling system will help pay for the building’s upkeep and maintenance.
All encouraging stuff coming from a naturally beautiful, culturally rich country that despite a rapidly growing economy is still very much in the rebound stages several years after the close of a bloody, decades-long civil war. It's great to see the project make it past the bureaucratic red tape and start construction — I guess you could say Clearpoint Residencies i offering Sri Lankans a breath of fresh air in more ways than one …