Colombo Lotus Tower: an architectural marvel | Sunday Observer

Colombo Lotus Tower: an architectural marvel

10 September, 2023

Amidst the bustling streets of Colombo, where tradition meets modernity, stands the towering masterpiece known as the Colombo Lotus Tower.

This iconic structure has not only redefined the city’s skyline but has also become a symbol of innovation, entertainment, and education in Sri Lanka. In a candid conversation with Sunday Observer, the two key figures instrumental in the tower’s transformation, we delve into the journey of the Lotus Tower - Retired Major General Prasad Samarasinghe, Director and CEO of the Colombo Lotus Tower Management Company (Pvt) Ltd and the Business Development Manager Bimsara Rozairo.

The story of the Colombo Lotus Tower begins with a vision, a vision that was brought to life by a dynamic team led by Rozairo. He speaks passionately about the journey and the concept that drives the tower’s operations today. “Our vision revolves around three core pillars: education, technology, and entertainment. This well-thought-out concept served as the foundation for the tower’s evolution”. The dedication to transparency was evident, with Rozairo emphasising the openness about the costs incurred. There were no hidden expenses, and every aspect of the project was meticulously planned and executed.

Major General Prasad Samarasinghe

Rozairo provided a detailed overview of the tower’s strategic positioning. The basement, currently catering to 1,500 pax, was already leased to a management company. On the ground floor, visitors could find a public food court, ice cream parlours, a kids’ play area and a souvenir shop, all of which were fully operational.

Moving upward, the tower has various attractions. The first floor has an innovation centre, featuring Dialog innovation, and multiple gaming arenas. The second floor was set to be a casino, with a signed agreement with an Indian company. The third floor, previously an open area, was being transformed into a kids’ play area.

Out of the tower’s nine floors, seven were utilised for various purposes. The first and second floors remained as technical rooms. The third and fourth floors featured banquet halls managed by Citrus under a three-year contract, with an 80/20 revenue-sharing model.


The sixth floor hosted six luxury suites, exclusively available to casino clients. The seventh floor was a crowd-puller, boasting an observation deck with a breathtaking view of the city. Above this, two unique rings offered more attractions—a restaurant on one and adventurous activities like abseiling and skywalking on the other.

Rozairo described the commercial allocations on the ground and first floors. The ground floor was home to a food outlet with ten mini outlets. The first floor housed the building research office, a Dialog innovation centre, and the Go Bungee office. Additionally, a digital art museum was set to make its debut, marking a groundbreaking first for Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.

The duo shared exciting prospects for the Lotus Tower. They had plans for a Ferris wheel, (as seen in Singapore and London) waiting for investors to come on board. This attraction alone requires a significant investment of approximately US$ 200 million.

The Go Bungee project was in the works, involving meticulous planning for the ramp and feasibility studies. Rozairo emphasised the importance of thorough preparations for such endeavors.

The centerpiece of their future plans was the digital art museum, designed to showcase Sri Lanka’s heritage, culture, and community through immersive digital displays.

Rozairo even offered a glimpse of the proposed concept, highlighting the integration of local elements, technical aspects, and interactive experiences. In summary, the concept “Epicentre of Technology and Entertainment” includes innovation centres, 9D cinema, E-sports arena, digital art museum, digital banks, food outlets, retail outlets, open air restaurants and leisure area, bungee jumping, interactive photo booths, observation deck and exhibitions.

Operational challenges

Maj. Gen. Samarasinghe, delved into the Tower’s background and operational challenges. He began by recounting the initial project estimates of US$ 104 million, which later grew to US$ 113 million. To fund the project, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) of Sri Lanka secured a US$ 88 million loan from the Exim Bank of China.

The project was assigned to the Chinese company CEIC for construction, with the Moratuwa University acting as consultants. The tower was expected to be completed by 2016, but due to delays, it remained unfinished. Consequently, the Exim Bank only disbursed US$ 66 million of the loan by 2016.

In 2019, the Lotus Tower was inaugurated by former President Maithripala Sirisena, despite its incomplete state. It remained closed until 2022, during which time the TRC struggled to operate efficiently. Eventually, a new Government-owned company, established under the Treasury, the Colombo Lotus Tower Management Company, was formed to take over the tower’s management. This company came into existence in March 2022, with the management agreement signed with the TRC in August 2022.

However, when the management company took over the Tower in September 2022, it was plagued with defects. To rectify these issues, an independent survey was conducted, identifying 21 major defects that had to be addressed before the tower could be operational. The TRC got the defects corrected by the Chinese company during the Defects Liability Period.

Samarasinghe outlined the tower’s impressive visitor statistics since its opening in September 2022. Over 1.3 million people, including 27,000 foreigners, had visited the tower by September 2023. This surge in visitors marked the tower as a prominent landmark in Sri Lanka.

Addressing financial aspects, Samarasinghe explained how the Tower had been financially self-sustaining. With a daily operational cost of approximately Rs.1 million, the tower’s income had significantly exceeded its expenses.

The management company had paid back US$ 100 million to the TRC, and an additional US$ 294 million had been invested in improving the tower. Samarasinghe emphasised that the tower’s value surpassed the monetary investment, as it had become an iconic symbol of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s resilience

The Colombo Lotus Tower has transcended its initial purpose as a telecommunications tower to become a symbol of Sri Lanka’s resilience and vision.

As visitors from across the globe flock to the tower, it beckons them to explore the rich tapestry of Sri Lankan heritage, experience cutting-edge digital art, and revel in the thrill of innovative entertainment. The Lotus Tower’s journey is a testament to the power of innovation, determination, and the enduring spirit of a nation striving for progress.

In the heart of Colombo, the Lotus Tower stands tall, not just as a monument of concrete and steel but as a beacon of progress, a testament to what a nation can achieve when it dares to dream big.

Its journey from construction challenges to becoming a thriving hub of technology, entertainment, and education was a remarkable achievement.

With visionary leadership and a dedicated team, the tower had transformed into an iconic symbol of Sri Lanka’s future. As it continues to evolve and attract visitors from all walks of life, the Lotus Tower promises to be a beacon of hope, resilience, and progress for generations to come.