Editor’s Note: Nate Berg is a journalist covering cities, architecture and urban planning.
A square mile of new land spreads out from the shores of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Crews are 80% through reclaiming approximately 65 million cubic meters of sand from the Indian Ocean floor.
The land will form the foundation of Port City Colombo a massive new district of high-rise office towers, luxury apartments, tree-lined canals and beachfront villas.
Adjacent to the city’s central business district and a recently upgraded port, the $1.4 billion project is touted by its developers as “a world class city for South Asia.”
For South Asia, perhaps. But not by South Asia. The Port City development, like a number of other infrastructure and building projects throughout Colombo, is being primarily financed, designed, engineered and even constructed by China.
These Chinese buildings are coming to a city near you
Through generous loans from China’s government-owned banks (and low-price bids from state-run or -supported construction companies), developing countries like Sri Lanka are becoming construction sites for Chinese-designed housing blocks, office towers, hotels and urban developments.
Less than a mile away from Port City Colombo, Sri Lanka’s Chinese-driven future is already coming into focus. The first concrete shell of a Chinese-built development, named Astoria, has already been erected. Once completed, it will represent a model of urbanism already widespread in China: