Keith Griffiths, the head of the ‘new’ Aedas, has outlined plans to become a major force in London following the practice’s split
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The architect said the company wants to build big in the capital after taking the helm of the mainly Asian-based company in the wake of its ‘conscious uncoupling’ from its UK operation yesterday (AJ 07.07.14).
Following the ‘amicable’ separation, which has seen the eight UK studios and the outposts in Russia, Poland and Kazakhstan re-emerge under a new AHR banner, Griffiths has thrown down the gauntlet to existing skyscraper designers such as KPF and SOM.
Griffiths said the company’s links with large Chinese investors would be its ‘conduit’ to more high-rise schemes in the capital.
He said: ‘We are already working with Vanke, Greenland and Asian Business Ports who are all building in China and who are coming to London. And we have already developed 100s of residential towers in China. No architect in London has done that amount of work.’
‘Our thrust is towards densification and high-rise and mixed-use commercial schemes. AHR, as it was then, was not represented on the London market for that kind of large scale, commercial work.
He added: ‘When SOM and KPF cleaned up at Canary Wharf it was because of their conduits through the [US] banks like JP Morgan.’
Griffiths went on: ‘At the moment we don’t have a good ‘in’ [with the existing London clients] and we can’t compete with [the likes of KPF and SOM]. It is all very well knocking on Tony Pidgley’s [of Berkeley’s] door – but there are plenty of people already doing that. We need to prove ourselves.’
Discussing the ‘divorce’, which insiders claim had been on the cards for some time, Grifftihs said: ‘The design problems facing Aedas and [now AHR] are significantly different. The UK arm was looking at wholly different issues in old established towns such as Manchester and Huddersfield – such as infill sites - compared to the 30 to 40 million sq ft schemes in Chengdu.
‘They are completely different scales of design problem. It is extremely difficult to run a singular organisation for different architectural problems.’
Aedas, which has a large Chinese order book and boasts 1,400 staff has opened its ‘relocated London studio’ at 65 Chandos Place in the city’s West End.