Ayesh Fernando, the Director of Horizon Campus and Knowledge City Malabe, retains a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Sheffield University and has worked in Project Management, Procurement, and Civil Engineering. He has been with the Access Group since 2017, and also serves on the executive boards of Access Real Estate, Access Civimech, Access Solar, and Ninewells.
The concept of Knowledge City Malabe was proposed five years ago when Chairman Sumal Perera was inclined to invest in dependable and inexpensive healthcare and education. He perceived the value and long-term benefits it would provide to the economy for many generations to come, even though the return on investment in certain industries may be smaller. In 2016, they made a significant investment in Ninewells Hospital, a premier private hospital specializing in women’s and children’s health and providing world-class medical services right here in Sri Lanka. The Chairman’s ambition was realized with the addition of Horizon Campus and the KCM development to their portfolio, which is why the first KCM building was opened on his 63rd birthday this year as a homage to him.
KCM is intended to be a city for all, providing everything a student or resident needs to prosper nearby, with more than half of the space dedicated to education and related activities. Ayesh mentions that they are working tirelessly to ensure that this project becomes one of the best, all-inclusive higher education centers in Asia, incorporating contemporary, high-quality social infrastructure in the form of residential facilities for families, faculty staff, student housing, 24-hour health centers, and modern leisure facilities that will help build this flourishing affiliation.
Overlooking what students might expect at KCM, Ayesh explains that having completed his higher education in Sheffield, England, he was exposed to a highly diversified university experience that went beyond his curriculum, which he believes is vital for Sri Lankan students. They will be examining and investing in their learning spaces regularly to ensure that their students have a unique and memorable experience while studying on campus. KCM is devoted to offering the greatest learning spaces now and in the future, according to Ayesh, because it has state-of-the-art infrastructure at its heart. Students will benefit from dedicated science and technology labs, multifunction libraries, student lounges, and social spaces. They want to provide their students with a seamless learning experience by cultivating individual interests through various clubs and organizations that will be housed in the active student council building. This is one of the simplest ways to become engaged, network, and meet people who share your interests. By providing student housing, they seek to foster a cosmopolitan environment that welcomes all Sri Lankan students as well as international exchange students to learn and flourish. The goal is for students to graduate from KCM with both the qualifications and the necessary soft skills to pursue their career objectives successfully.
When asked how they plan to promote KCM as a City for All, Ayesh said the concept is based on combining four basic aspects of life: “Learn, Work, Live, and Leisure.” They’re creating a neighborhood where students can safely walk to class, individuals can get to work quickly, and businesses can take advantage of the most modern commercial spaces and increased foot traffic. Furthermore, such tight relationships will aid in the reduction of collective carbon emissions, as well as the health and well-being of their citizens. This is the kind of life he remembers from his time at the University of Sheffield, and he is using his personal experiences to help KCM become a world-class facility. They had everything they needed as students right around the corner, and it was clear that the companies in the area were thriving as well.
Questioning what benefits a housing or apartment investor may expect, Ayesh responds that providing a city that embraces and celebrates everyone’s well-being has always been essential to them. They are delighted to offer 64 separate 10 perch blocks on which investors can construct their own dream home. For individuals who desire a turnkey solution, KCM Properties’ skilled staff has created a contemporary range of houses in five various designs. Their project managers will construct these homes to the best engineering standards possible. Residents will have access to a clubhouse, a fully equipped gym, and a swimming pool, as well as other amenities. Furthermore, the KCM apartments provide 140 semi-luxury units with cutting-edge amenities. He points out that there is a high need for affordable housing in the area, which will be heightened by the presence of their academic and corporate communities. The flats are therefore perfect for investors looking for high-return rental properties or small families working in the area. All of the amenities one might require will be only a short distance away. Ayesh expresses his delight at the prospect of working with Keells Supermarkets, HNB, and Ninewells Hospital, all of whom will have locations within KCM, along with cafes and bakeries, restaurants, and a variety of retail outlets. Their presence will ensure that the residents’ and students’ most pressing needs are met.
Viewing the commercial benefits of KCM to enterprises, Ayesh says that after the campus and residencies are done, KCM expects a footfall of over 10,000 people. This is without taking into account the surrounding area, which consists of houses, residential projects, and corporate headquarters. The entirety of KCM’s road front, which comprises a row of shophouses, will be open to retail, food and beverage, and consumer service firms. By collaborating with these services, they can provide even more value to their communities. He goes on to say that they have a piece of land set aside for the development of office complexes when it comes to commercial facilities. KCM can establish a valuable talent pool of students and professionals with particular synergies that will benefit both the university and the businesses by establishing a corporate sector. Although they are further advanced in their plans, they are willing to talk to possible tenants who appreciate the potential and significance of this opportunity.
Ayesh describes what a shophouse is and how it can be used for both residential and business purposes. With the ground floor serving as a storefront and the upper floor housing a residential flat, these residences will surround the road and pedestrian walkways. This opens up several possibilities: an enterprising family could live on the premises while running their business, the upper floor could be rented out as housing while a business is run on the ground floor, or the entire house could be used as a multi-floored store and office mix, depending on how one wishes to use their space. The ground and upper floor entrances will be kept separate, allowing each shophouse to serve as a single unit or as two discrete units with individual roles.
When it comes to the cost of completing Knowledge City Malabe, he estimates that the master plan will cost Rs. 7 billion. Apart from the campus, they plan to build 64 individual houses, 140 state-of-the-art residential units with a mixed development zone, modern commercial offices, recreational facilities, medical facilities, retail shops, restaurants, as well as a cricket ground, walking track and outdoor leisure spaces on 28 acres of land.
He further mentions that strengthening KCM’s presence in the education industry was their first objective, and they are happy to welcome over 3200 students from Horizon Campus and Spark Academy to the first campus building. Horizon Campus is a private institution that has received accreditation from the University Grants Commission and the Ministry of Higher Education. It offers a wide range of recognized programs in six faculties, including information technology, management, and science. The Spark Academy will provide the opportunity for young brilliant entrepreneurs to launch their ideas under the mentorship of industry professionals, as well as collaboration with global companies and multinational teams.
According to him, they plan to build two more campus buildings shortly, including the administration and student council, as well as student living facilities for roughly 1,000 students. There will be plenty of room for expansion, and the facility will be able to handle about 10,000 students once completed. KCM intends to be the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, known for its superior infrastructure and the positive impact it will have on the economy, receiving international acclaim. In closing, Ayesh highlights that they wish to provide a safe, diversified, and dynamic community to both local and international students from multiple demographics to foster an inclusive and collaborative atmosphere in which everyone may flourish.