Working Paper
Moderating Urbanization and Managing Growth

How Can Colombo Prevent the Emerging Chaos?

This paper examines urbanization trends, the growth of Colombo and its present state of development. It looks at the approaches to the planned interventions in the city and demonstrates how a uni-directional urban development has had a detrimental impact upon healthy growth and quality of life in a city where half of the population still live in slums and shanties. It shows that the city has been promoting high impact 'vertical growth' and argues that in the absence of healthy 'lateral growth', Colombo is unlikely to achieve its vision of creating a gracious city. It is based on the premise that growth and development of a city need to be managed in such a way that the quality of spaces and places are retained, accentuating their intrinsic characteristics, promoting social cohesion and enhancing liveability. The paper argues that urban development in Colombo must balance vertical and lateral growth and proposes possible directions of change in managing urbanization and development.