Moshe Safdie, the architect of Sri Lanka’s paradigmatic high rise edifice Altair, has been named the Laureate in Architecture by the jury committee for the 2019 Wolf Prize, considered the second most important in the world after the Nobel Prize.
To be presented by the President of Israel Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin in the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) in Jerusalem in May, the celebrated Wolf Prize honours Mr Safdie for “a career motivated by the social concerns of architecture and formal experimentation.”
Announcing the prize, worth US$ 100,000, the jury said: “Over a long and distinguished career spanning 50 years, Moshe Safdie has produced a body of work of great originality and artistry in the field of architecture and urbanism. The projects undertaken by his architectural studio consistently seek experimentation and can be understood as an evolving form of research. He is also a distinguished educator and in his numerous publications he has articulated a clear and coherent position as an academic and critic.”
A citizen of Israel, Canada and the United States, Mr Safdie is an architect, urban planner, theorist and author. He was born in Haifa in 1938 and relocated to Canada with his family in 1953. He graduated from McGill University in 1961 with a degree in architecture. After apprenticing with Louis I. Kahn in Philadelphia, Safdie returned to Montreal to oversee the master plan for the 1967 World Exhibition. In 1964 he established his own firm to realize Habitat 67, an adaptation of his thesis at McGill, which was the central feature of the World’s Fair and a ground-breaking design in the history of architecture.
Moshe Safdie’s more recent work includes Marina Bay Sands — the new icon of Singapore, Jewel Changi Airport — the stunning mixed-use development due to open in 2019, the Kauffman Centre for the Performing Arts in Kansas City — rated one of the 15 most spectacular concert halls of the world, the Crystal Bridge Museum of American Art in Arkansas, the Khalsa Heritage Centre in Punjab, the headquarters of the US Institute of Peace in Washington DC, Lester B. Pearson Airport, Toronto, the Yad Vasham Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem, Cairnhill Condominiums in Singapore, the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts in Vancouver and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
Wolf Prize winners are selected by international professional judging committees of three members of renowned experts in their fields. Each committee is appointed for one year only. The judges’ names, as well as their deliberations, remain confidential.
Since 1978, five Wolf Prizes have been awarded annually, four in the sciences and one in the arts. The prize is awarded to renowned scientists and artists for their unique contribution “for the sake of humanity and for friendly relations between nations, without distinction of nationality, race, colour, religion, sex or political outlook.” The areas of prizes in the sciences are agriculture, chemistry, mathematics, physics and medicine. The areas of prizes in art are music, architecture, painting and sculpture.
Adjudged the Best Condominium in Asia for Architectural Design at the 2018 Asia Real Estate Summit (ARES), Altair is Sri Lanka’s most distinctive and instantly recognised high-rise. A one-of-its-kind development in South Asia in terms of architectural design, structural engineering, and living experience, Altair comprises of two tower blocks, a 63-storey sloping tower which leans into a taller, 68-storey vertical tower. Acknowledged as a new standard in contemporary living in Sri Lanka, the Altair building has already brought a new dimension in aesthetics to Colombo’s skyline and offers its 400 apartments spectacular views of the Beira Lake, the Indian Ocean and the city of Colombo. The development’s 1.5 million square feet of high-end eco-friendly living space is supported by 40,000 square feet of up-market retail space.
Photo caption – Moshe Safdie and the Altair building in ColomboSeptember 6, 2018
A large group of spectators was treated to a rare sudden death playoff at the 2018 RCGC Open when the top two contenders, Mithun Perera and Anura Rohana, were tied at 277 at the end of the 72-hole, four-round tournament, which Perera went on to win.
The other players who rounded out the top five of the competition, which was sponsored for the second successive year by Altair, were K. Prabagaran, N. Thangaraja and Sachin De Silva who finished with scores of 285, 286 and 287 respectively in the stroke play contest played out over four days.
August 20, 2018
The best of Sri Lanka’s amateur and professional golfing talent will vie for the title of the country’s champion golfer when the 2018 edition of the RCGC Open tees off in partnership with Altair on 28th August.
The tournament, taking place for only the second time in two decades, was revived last year after a lapse of 18 years, with Altair taking on the mantle of Principal Sponsor.
Welcoming Altair’s decision to reprise its role this year, the Captain of the Royal Colombo Golf Club (RCGC) Mr Avancka Herat announced that more than 100 golfers are expected to compete in stroke play format over the four days of the tournament, with the best 30 golfers advancing to the final two days.
“This is the only open golf tournament that is played in Sri Lanka besides the Sri Lanka Open, and we greatly appreciate the generous support of Altair, which led to its revival and continuance,” Mr Herat told media at a press conference at the 139 year old club. “The RCGC is proud to be associated with a truly iconic corporate partner of the calibre of Altair.”
Altair Director Mr Pradeep Moraes said: “We are particularly happy to support this tournament, because it extends an opportunity to a wider segment of players to compete against one-another, contributing to the development of the sport. It is open to the best players regardless of club affiliations and membership.”
“Altair caters to those who seek the finest things in life, and the sport of golf is one of them. Altair is therefore the perfect champion for a tournament of this nature,” Mr Moraes added.
According to the RCGC, top contenders for this year’s Open include Sri Lanka’s veteran golfers such as Mithun Perera, Anura Rohana, K. Prabagaran and defending champion N. Thangaraja, currentlyranked no 1 in the tournament.
The winner will be awarded the Altair trophy. Cash wards of over Rs 500,000/= will also be presented to the top 30 golfers of the tournament.
The RCGC Open Golf tournament was inaugurated in 1970 and was open to all golfers, professional as well as amateur. It is a true test of golf with four rounds of stroke play to determine the champion golfer of the tournament for 2018.
The RCGC’s resident professional H.L. Premadasa won the championship in its first three years, after which Sri Lanka’s best golfer to date, Nandasena Perera, won it a record seven times. Club amateurs Pheroze Billimoria and Rusi Captain won it twice and once respectively, while other winners included Jessie Perera and N Thangaraja.
Designed by the global celebrity architect Moshe Safdie, Altair is a one-of-its-kind development in South Asia in terms of architectural design, structural engineering, and living experience. The building, comprising of two tower blocks, a 63-storey sloping tower which leans in to a taller, 68-storey vertical tower, has brought a new dimension in aesthetics to Colombo’s skyline.
Taken from Lankabusinessonline.comAugust 2, 2018
Altair provides a helping hand to clean up the surrounding areas of the Beira Lake as a part of the No Kunu initiative focused on a cleaner Colombo.
June 27, 2018
Contrary to popular perception, apartments currently account for only 1.7% of Colombo’s residential facilities despite the scarcity of land to cater to rapid urbanisation, an industry leader has disclosed.
Representing Altair as a Director of the iconic development and the Condominium Developers Association of Sri Lanka (CDASL) as its Chairman, Pradeep Moraes told the Sri Lanka Investment & Business Conclave (SLIBC) that even after the 12,000 apartments currently under construction are completed over the next three to four years, this figure would only rise to about 4 to 5%.
In contrast, apartments account for as much as 70% of living accommodation in central Kuala Lumpur, 80% of central Bangkok and 90% of central Mumbai, Moraes said.
Stressing that condominium living was the only solution to increasing urbanisation in areas like Colombo where land is in short supply, he pointed out that if the area occupied by the Altair project had been allocated for houses, it would have been able to accommodate 54 minimum-sized units at most, whereas the development’s twin towers offer 400 spacious luxury apartments, with as much as 45% of total space set aside for public areas, which is much more than the industry average.
The presentation, titled ‘Residential Condominium Market – Sri Lanka’ targeted principally at foreign delegates attending the conclave, highlighted both the emotional arguments and the business rationale that underpin the attraction of the property development sector in Colombo, the fastest growing city in the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index of 2015.
Moraes also disclosed that 90% of luxury condominium purchases are equity based, and that on average, 65% of purchases are by resident Sri Lankans, 27% by expatriate Sri Lankans and 8% by foreigners.
Quoting the findings of the global real estate services firm Jones Lang Lasalle he said 98% of completed luxury condominium projects in Colombo are sold out, while on average, 47% of projects under construction are sold out. These findings aresupported by statistics from RIU (Research Intelligent Unit) whose corresponding figures are 99%and 49% respectively. In the case of Altair, more than two thirds of its apartments have been sold.
Altair was the Platinum Sponsor of the 2018 Sri Lanka Investment & Business Conclave, themed ‘Partnering for Prosperity.’ The event was attended by 131 foreign delegates, while 128 local participants were registered to attend. It was organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in association with four government ministries, the BOI, the EDB, the Department of Commerce and the Sri Lanka Conventions Bureau.
June 1, 2018
Altair Director Pradeep Moraes was interviewed by Oxford Business Group, in his capacity as the Chairman of the Condominium Developers Association of Sri Lanka on how the real estate market is adapting to market changes.
In what ways do you see the capital gains tax impacting the local real estate market?
Moraes: Seeing as 10% is a modest tax, the impact would be minimal. A number of other markets have much higher levels of taxation and still experience vibrant real estate growth. The tax has been implemented in a clear and open way, the figure has been made public, and now the market can factor it in and go about its business.
Is there enough purchasing power in Sri Lanka to support further developments in the luxury residential segment?
Moraes: According to global real estate consultancy Knight Frank, Sri Lanka recorded the second-highest growth rate internationally in the ultra-rich community in 2016. In our experience, luxury condominiums continue to be purchased with over 90% equity and without borrowing. Over 90% of such developments are in the relatively affluent Western Province, predominantly in Colombo. Additionally, 99% of luxury and ultra-luxury apartments in completed projects and around 51% of those under construction have been sold, according to investment management company JLL, with over 60% of both sold to resident Sri Lankans. Most of the larger projects have been undertaken by reputable international developers who do not borrow locally and have certainly done their due diligence.
Like many countries, Sri Lanka has a hugely inequitable distribution of wealth. This, combined with the previously relaxed tax regime, has led to a gross underassessment of wealth, some of which is sent overseas. Luxury real estate offers a desirable and commercially sound option for attracting these funds into the local economy. There is certainly enough purchasing power to justify further luxury developments.
How the profile of luxury residential property owners changing?
Moraes: The current profile is 60-65% resident Sri Lankan, 25-30% expatriate Sri Lankan and less than 10% foreign. The low foreigner count is because the purchase of residential property in Sri Lanka is not linked to residency privileges, unlike several countries in the Caribbean, South-east Asia, and the Middle East, as well as certain Mediterranean countries in the EU. However, this is now being remedied with a proposal to grant residency visas connected to investment.
The recently inked comprehensive free trade agreement with Singapore, together with the enhancement of the existing agreement with India and those being negotiated with China and Pakistan are expected to encourage business relocation to Sri Lanka, which should have positive effects on rental markets.
How has the market reacted to calls to restrict lending to the real estate sector?
Moraes: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka has engaged with all stakeholders and is satisfied that the real estate industry is not a cause for concern. It has broadcast this view, going on, in fact, to say that the luxury segment was the least vulnerable.
As with markets everywhere, mindset and speculative concern can and will affect performance, as was seen in Colombo with the six-month slowdown in sales in 2017. Thankfully, this has now corrected, and sales are proceeding satisfactorily once again.
What impact would the introduction of real estate investment trusts (REITs) have on the Sri Lankan market?
Moraes: The benefits of REITs would be phenomenal for both the industry and the economy as a whole. Investments could increase exponentially, as REITs facilitate the entry of small local investors who otherwise lack the means to purchase as an individual. They also reassure foreign investors that their purchase benefits from professional guidance and market knowledge.
The stumbling block to the implementation of REITs is the issue of the 4% stamp duty payable to the provincial councils. REITs by their very nature propagate multiple transactions and it was feared that the business model could not sustain repetitive taxation. However, evaluation undertaken by industry players, the Colombo Stock Exchange and the Securities and Exchange Commission points to the aggregate of capital gains and rentals providing a cumulative return that remains attractive.
Therefore, steps are now being taken to revive the formulation and implementation of REITs, based on this belief in their viability and the scope for their productive participation in the Sri Lankan capital market.
Originally published on Oxford Business Group Website
February 16, 2018
Altair, the 69-story luxury residential complex which fronts Beira Lake in Colombo, celebrated its “topping out” to mark the completion of structural work. Going back to ancient times, the topping out ceremony marks the milestone of the placement of the last structural steel beam at the final roof height. This important moment also celebrates the accomplishment of the structural construction crews and the transition to interior construction.
Altair is composed of two slender tower blocks, with one block leaning into the other vertical tower, which supports it. The towers are oriented to the movement of the sun and to harness the tropical breezes, and the units offer 270-degree views of Beira Lake and the Indian Ocean. The unique diagrid structural system accentuates the slope of the inclined stepped tower.
“It is very exciting to see the completed building form tapering elegantly toward the sky. The unique combination of a straight and a sloping stepped tower gives the building a very distinctive appearance and has become a landmark for locals and tourists,” said Charu Kokate, who visits the site regularly. The diagrid structure is highly rationalized and allows for naturally ventilated and beautifully lit units. The units are very private and with their special entrances are like “little houses in the sky”.
A generous allocation of space for public areas, a feature of high-end buildings, is even more evident in this building. Of Altair’s 1.5 million square feet of space, 828,000 square feet or 55 per cent is residential space. Of the balance, 36,000 square feet is allocated for retail while 636,000 square feet, or 42.5 per cent is public space.
The 400-unit towers offer spectacular views of the Beira Lake, the Indian Ocean and the city of Colombo. The building is scheduled for completion in July 2018 and is already 70 per cent sold.
Taken from safdiearchitects.com
December 12, 2017
Altair, the 68-storey luxury residential apartment complex which fronts the Beira Lake in Colombo, recently celebrated its ‘topping out’ to mark the completion of structural work, an important milestone.
Going back to ancient times, the topping out ceremony marks the placement of the last structural steel beam at the final roof height. This important moment also celebrates the accomplishment of the structural construction crews and the transition to interior construction.
“We are now focussed on the façades and the interiors,” said Architect Charu Kokate, Principal at Safdie Architects, which is overseeing the project. Designed by acclaimed international architect Moshe Safdie, Altair is composed of two slender tower blocks which are oriented to the movement of the sun to harness the tropical breezes. The units offer 270-degree breath-taking views of the Beira Lake and the Indian Ocean.
“It is very exciting to see the completed building form tapering elegantly towards the sky. The diagrid structure visually accentuates the slope of the inclined stepped tower. The unique combination of a straight and a sloping stepped tower gives the building a very distinctive appearance and has become a landmark for locals and tourists,” says Kokate, who visits the site regularly to ensure that Moshe Safdie’s design vision is fulfilled in all aspects.
“The diagrid structure is highly rationalised and allows for naturally ventilated and beautifully lit units. The units are very private and with their special entrances are like little houses in the sky,” Kokate explained.
The staggered stepped form of the leaning tower allows for large terraces, which provide prime city and direct ocean views.
At the ground level, an arcade of retail outlets on the west side facing the Beira Lake sets the standard for future lakefront development along the planned pedestrian promenade. Restaurants on a mezzanine level overlook the promenade onto the Lake.
Altair Director Pradeep Sureka said a generous allocation of space for public areas, a feature of high-end buildings, is even more evident in this building. Of Altair’s 1.5 million square feet of space, 828,000 square feet or 55% is residential space. Of the balance, 36,000 square feet is allocated for retail while 636,000 square feet, or 42.5% is public space.
“With the focus moving to the completion of these interior spaces, Altair’s promise of redefining luxury high-rise living in Sri Lanka will soon take physical shape,” Sureka said. He added that Altair has already pleasantly surprised apartment buyers with numerous value additions including Italian Botticino marble flooring, extensive home automation, chilled water air conditioning, double-glazed windows, Duravit sanitary ware from the Philippe Starck designer range, a concierge-serviced reception,central-hot water and state-of-the-art high-speed fibre connectivity solutions.
A one-of-its-kind development in South Asia in terms of architectural design, structural engineering, and living experience, Altair offers its 400 apartments spectacular views of the Beira Lake, the Indian Ocean and the city of Colombo. The building is scheduled for completion in July 2018 and is already 70% sold.
September 21, 2017
The Condominium Developers Association of Sri Lanka (CDASL), an affiliate of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, has announced the appointment of new office bearers and members of the Executive Committee for 2017-18.
Pradeep Moraes, Director of Indocean Developers (Pvt) Ltd., has been appointed Chairman of the Association, and Sivarajah Thumilan, Group Chairman, Blue Ocean Residencies (Pvt) Ltd and Hemaka De Alwis, Managing Director, Fairway Holdings Ltd. as Secretary and Treasurer respectively.
Other members of the CDASL’s Executive Committee are Pravir Samarasinghe, Group Chief Executive Officer, Overseas Realty (Ceylon) PLC (Past President); Suresh Rajendra, President Property sector John Keells; Brahmanage Premalal, Chairman, Prime Land (Pvt) Ltd.; Kishore Reddy, Chairman/Managing Director, Quest & Query (Pvt) Limited; Lalitha Jayasooriya, Chairman, Gampaha District Sanasa and Credit Cooperative Societies Union Ltd.; Mahasen Samaravijaya, Chairman/CEO, G.V.R. Lanka (Pvt) Ltd.; Pinsiri Fernando, Chairman, Suncity Property Developers (Pvt) Ltd. and Prasanna De Zoysa, Director, SMI Housing Development (Pvt) Ltd.
Comprising of condominium developers as full members and those in affiliated trades and services as associate members, the CDASL’s principal mandate includes watching the interests of all stakeholders connected to the industry, fostering and promoting industry specific initiatives, inviting the intervention of governmental bodies in the facilitation of investments in the industry and the smooth implementation such investments, lobbying for the change or removal of damaging or counterproductive legislation where it exists, interacting with line ministries and related bodies in facilitating responsible and proactive procedures, establishing best practices within the trade, and the establishment of the role and recognition of the Condominium sector as a significant player in the economy.