While more and more architectural companies are combining forces, renowned firm Aedas has announced a de-merger in a bid to increase its urban high-rise portfolio.
According to Aedas, the world's fifth-largest architecture firm, the de-merger is designed to allow both its branches to focus on their respective strengths and grow the businesses in different directions.
The firm has already completed a host of high rise projects across Asia - where 80 per cent of global development and construction is taking place - and will bring this design expertise to key urban areas such as Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and London.
Earlier this month, Aedas announced that the company's 13 offices in China, South-East Asia, the Middle East and the USA would remain under the Aedas brand while its eight UK offices and offices in Russia, Poland and Kazakhstan will operate under a new name - AHR. There will still be opportunities in the future for the the two to collaborate on projects.
"This move reinforces Aedas primary aim to provide international design services to the major world cities through our network of 13 offices and 1,400 staff," said Aedas chair Keith Griffiths.
"We are keen to be active in locations with increasing demand for high rise, high density residential, commercial and infrastructure developments, and recognise the long-term importance of international cities. The market for international design practices is changing as developers become international. Our realignment reflects this change by ensuring we are present in core markets for our global clients."
The firm's London studio has recently relocated to the city's West End and will be the arm for its international projects, targeting overseas investors and developers active in the London market. The studio is also recruiting a locally-based design director with international built commercial experience in London and with a track record of London approvals.
"We believe that this is a very natural evolution based on how the practice has been operating in recent years and to all intents and purposes there will be no change for our clients or our 450 staff," said Brian Johnson, chairman of the new UK practice.
Aedas is renowned in Asia for state-of-the-art mixed-use developments and clusters of buildings that creatively join through bridges and vertical podiums. The local culture is often visually reflected in the designs of structures such as Aedas' proposed snow mountain-inspired Greenland Group Chengdu East Village CBED Plots.
This project consists of a mixed-use 486-metre tower with surrounding buildings said to gradually increase towards the tower's height in a series of "rolling hills." It will also feature a commercial street with architectural elements that reflect famous development projects in the area.
One of Aedas' more notable projects is the Jenga-inspired Nanfung mixed-use project in Guangzhou. Two 123-metre buildings are spaced 160 metres apart and joined by sliding floor plates. The buildings feature horizontal blocks that offer commercial, exhibition and hospitality space.
In London, the firm is currently working on an urban project for Convoys Wharf, a 16-hectare regeneration development on the River Thames in South London.
The new development will house 3,500 apartments and encourage a live/work/play lifestyle for its inhabitants where retail, cultural, employment, hotel and leisure facilities will be linked to the existing High Street and the Thames.
"The masterplan acknowledges the historic nature of the site and focuses the development on a new plaza at the centre, incorporating three landmark towers and a grade two listed warehouse," Aedas' website reads.
Griffiths said projects like this will inspire the firm's future direction.
"London can't continue just putting these towers up everywhere," he told The Guardian. "The city's infrastructure can't cope with densification across the board. It needs to densify at nodal points, and we think these bi integrated mixed-use developments, connected around stations at first and second-floor level, are the answer."