Arcade Independence Square

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Arcade - Independence Square
Arcade Independence Square, Colombo, Sri Lanka.jpg
Exterior of the main building
LocationColombo Sri Lanka
Coordinates6°54′9″N 79°52′7″E / 6.90250°N 79.86861°E / 6.90250; 79.86861Coordinates: 6°54′9″N 79°52′7″E / 6.90250°N 79.86861°E / 6.90250; 79.86861
Opening date13 July 2014
DeveloperUrban Development Authority of Sri Lanka
ManagementUrban Development Authority of Sri Lanka
OwnerUrban Development Authority of Sri Lanka
No. of stores and services40+
Total retail floor area8,400 square metres (90,000 sq ft)
No. of floors2

The Arcade Independence Square is a shopping complex in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Housed in a group of renovated buildings including the former Jawatta Lunatic Asylum and the former Western Provincial Council Building, it was built as a part of the Independence Square Redevelopment programme initiated by the national government.[1]


The building was constructed in 1889 at a cost of Rs 450,000[2] to serve as the Jawatta Lunatic Asylum (also called the Cinnamon Gardens Asylum).[3] In 1875, the then Governor, Sir William Gregory,[4] based on the recommendations of the Principal Civil Medical Officer, Dr. W R Kynsey, decided to build a new asylum to replace the existing facility at Borella.[2] Issues over the location and design meant that construction did not commence until 1879, following the intervention of the new Governor, Sir James Longdon. Even then further construction of the building was delayed until 1882.[4] The building consisted of an entrance block, two patient wings (accommodating 400 patients) connected to the central administration and a boundary wall. Longdon defended the cost of the facility stating at the time, "The asylum is a series of one-storey buildings of the plainest type. The walls are of brick plastered, because of the climate plastering is found requisite for the preservation of buildings. There is no expensive ornamentation, or indeed any ornament at all, unless a short ungraceful and inexpensive tower over the entrance designed for the clock can be called an ornament. The enclosing walls are of ordinary cabook, such as is universally used for garden walls in Colombo."[2] The Jawatta Asylum suffered from overcrowding within years of completion, housing over 500 patients. In 1917 a new larger facility was constructed at Angoda, with all the patients being transferred from Jawatta by 1926.[4]

The building subsequently housed the newly established University College. The building complex was then occupied by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), the Public Administration Department, Auditor General's Department and later the Government Analyst's Department.[4]


In 2012 the Urban Development Authority commenced the renovation of the buildings and special care was taken to preserve their original architectural features whilst adding modern technological features and amenities.[1] The construction of the mall took approximately 200 soldiers and six months of work to clear the spaces and fully reveal the original structures. The buildings remain true to the original complex with no additions or alterations. It took nearly two years to fully renovate the structure[5] at a cost of Rs 550 million.[6] The 8,400 m2 (90,000 sq ft) shopping complex was officially opened by the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa on 13 July 2014.[7]

The arcade also houses Sri Lanka's first ever boutique cinema, 'The Empire Cineplex', run by Ceylon Theatres.[8]


  1. ^ a b "President declares open renovated Independence Square". Department of Defence. 14 July 2014. Archived from the original on 20 June 2015. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Mendis, Nalaka (18 May 2013). "Jawatte Lunatic Asylum: the forgotten relict of the colonial era". The Island. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  3. ^ Mendis, Nalaka (20 July 2014). "Arcade then and now: Far from the madding crowd". Sunday Times. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d Nazoor, Sara (20 July 2014). "Ornament of the City". Ceylon Today. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  5. ^ "Arcade Independence Square: A modern renaissance of colonial grandeur". Serendib. Sri Lankan Airlines. August 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
  6. ^ Abeyratne, Dharma Sri (14 July 2014). "President opens Arcade Independence Square shopping complex". Daily News. Retrieved 22 June 2015.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "President opens Arcade Independence Square". Department of Government Information. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  8. ^ "Arcade Independence Square Colombo". George Steuarts Travel International. George Steuarts Group. Archived from the original on 20 June 2015. Retrieved 21 June 2015.

See also[edit]