Air pollutant dispersion around high-rise building cluster forms: the case of Port City, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Malithie Vidanapathirana*, Narein Perera, Rohinton Emmanuel, Shaleeni Coorey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Air quality in dense urban environments is a growing concern, especially in rapidly developing cities. In the face of growing traffic associated with urbanisation, there is evidence for high levels of pollutant concentration at street level which is influenced by building forms. In this paper, we examine the potential effects of high-rise, cluster developments permitted by the local planning authorities in the newly established Port City development in Colombo, Sri Lanka. We designed possible building forms based on specific guidelines for the development in terms of plot coverage, floor area ratio, and maximum height. The three-dimensional building clusters were simulated using the RANS RNG k-epsilon turbulence model, to determine pollutant dispersion of a complex street formation in a high-dense high-rise building cluster, within the development and the surrounding context (existing Colombo). Results show that while increased porosity within the built fabric facilitates better pollution dispersion, a low correlation was seen between wind velocity and pollution concentration, especially in deep narrow high-rise canyons. Dispersion patterns at street level and at the urban canopy differed with each built form and are dependent on each canyon geometry. Thus, the study highlights the need for building regulations to take a holistic approach to capture the various elements of a complex urban cluster rather than the current two-dimensional parameters proposed for Port City, Colombo.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94166-94184
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number41
Early online date1 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Air pollution dispersion
  • Urban form
  • CFD modelling
  • High-rise building cluster
  • Tower and podium
  • Sri Lanka

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Chemistry


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