For over a century, Galle Face has been the city’s most prestigious oceanfront and the city’s ceremonial centre. This narrow, picturesque stretch of prime land is set to become the beating heart of one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, and an ambitious, thriving city such as Colombo demands ambitious investment and development to elevate it on the global stage.
This ambition is further manifested by the recent installation of the remarkable AHASA ONE Sky Bridge, the most distinctive and striking feature of the Sapphire Residences and ITC One hotel complex that dominates the centre of Galle Face. Destined to become a major landmark for the city, this iconic development comprises the impressive c.224-metre residential tower, which sits alongside the c.140-metre high hotel. These two vertical structures have been connected by the AHASA ONE Sky Bridge, around 100 metres in the air above Galle Face at the 19th to 21st levels.
Timelapse video of the remarkable structure being hoisted from the ground up.
The first of its kind in South Asia, AHASA ONE Sky Bridge will have two full-length infinity pools and a sun deck on top; inside will be a luxurious jazz lounge and bar, which will surely become one of Colombo’s most popular social ‘hotspots’. The dual-panoramic views from this awe-inspiring structure will be some of the most breathtaking in the city, revealing the Indian Ocean, Beira Lake and the city lights below in all their glory. This has further established the luxury homes at Sapphire Residences as the best apartments to buy in Colombo.
Inevitably such a unique design presented some interesting and unique challenges. Suspended c.100 meters in the air and weighing a staggering c.3,000 tonnes when completed, this c.55-meter-long elevated pathway is unquestionably an engineering marvel, which demanded the world’s best minds to turn it into reality. As such, developers WelcomHotels Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd. sought the expertise and experience of world-leading construction company L&T.
“The AHASA ONE Skybridge is one of the most unique structures that we have ever built, not least as it requires extensive full-scale load testing before final assembly on site,” explains L&T Sri Lanka Head Mr. Natarajan Namachivayam. “This is a unique challenge that, to our knowledge, has no precedent of this nature and complexity anywhere in the world. The balanced double infinity Skypools and the suspended Sky Lounge below the pool are features which are unique to this project,” he observes.
In order to create such a landmark building as the region’s most exclusive, sustainable complex, leading companies around the world covering architecture, engineering, interior design, security, landscaping, marketing and sales were approached, from which a world-class team of global experts was assembled. This team includes the world’s most revered living designer Philippe Starck (Paris) and YOO (London), Gensler (San Francisco), Control Risks (London), Thornton Tomasetti (New York), L&T (India/Sri Lanka), Sterling (India), Design Wilkes (Malaysia), Meinhardt Façade (India), Burega Farnell (Singapore) and Sotheby’s International Realty (global sales). All this global expertise is underpinned by the exceptional 5* hospitality services that will be delivered by India’s ITC Hotels to residents, guests and visitors to Sapphire Residences and ITC One hotel. These exceptional hospitality services, exclusive amenities and luxury design make Sapphire Residences the best apartments to buy in Colombo.
Closer to home, a leading consultant on this iconic development is the renowned and celebrated Sri Lankan architect Deshamanya Surath Wickramasinghe, who has been at the forefront of this project since its inception. Describing AHASA ONE Sky Bridge as ‘architecturally iconic’, he believes the exterior glass facade enabling spectacular panoramic views will generate an ambience that is unique to Sri Lanka and to South Asia. “This exceptional Sky Bridge will be a distinctive landmark for the City of Colombo, a symbolic catalyst to convey to the world the country’s resurgent economic and cultural growth. I hope that it will also inspire our own architects and designers to push the boundaries of creativity in transforming Colombo’s skyline.” Commenting on the remarkable installation process last week, Mr. Wickramasinghe explains that connecting the two towers at a height of 100 metres above the ground with such a massive structure was a challenging but remarkable achievement. “This state-of-the-art bridge has been designed with meticulous engineering expertise, so it had to be absolutely precise during installation, to avoid an error of even a few millimetres,” he adds.
Arun Pathak, MD of the project’s development company WelcomHotels Lanka, concludes, “Despite the appalling terrorism and the political crisis we have all experienced this year, we are pleased that construction has remained on target and the main structure will soon be complete with the installation of the spectacular AHASA ONE Sky Bridge. We remain extremely positive for the future.”