“Architectural value is the summation of valid responses from users, owners, community and architectural expertise.”
Keith Griffiths, a master planner and leader, is the founder of the well-renowned architectural firm, Aedas. His understanding of the intangible aspects of an urban environment, which is the market, society and culture of a particular city allowed him to
come up with unique design solutions and strategies on a large scale. Griffiths stands in possession of several feathers on his cap, owing to his success in the Asian market. Aedas, today, stands as the seventh largest architectural firm in the world, whilst the Griffiths-Roch Foundation is responsible for having restored important historic buildings.
An insight into Griffiths’ designs reveals his taste in the urban landscape. His creativity displays the diversity in communities accurately. Whilst maintaining the standards for every project, Griffiths ensures that he displays the different essence of every project’s requirements into the end product. He also advocates the practice of densification and city hub formation for every city, in terms of an urban planning solution.
Hengqin International Financial Center (under construction)
The Hengqin International Financial Center is located on the Hengqin Island as part of the Pearl River Delta mega-region. Designed by Keith Griffiths for Aedas, the design of the Center takes inspiration from a 13th-century Chinese painting depicting the Nine Dragons, which symbolizes the emergence and meeting of powerful forces. The embodiment of a masterpiece, which is the touch with history, becomes clear through the fluidity displayed and the story depicted. Yet, its contemporary essence comes alive through the construction materials used and the merging of the separate elements of design. What this contrast results in is a poetry, which forms the focal point of the financial regions of Zhuhai, Macau, Hong Kong and Shenzhen, employing glass and metal panels as its writing tools and an ever-flourishing urban zone as its writing paper.
Huanancheng Exhibition Centre (under construction)
The Huanancheng Exhibition Centre is an exhibition space and shopping mall located in the Nanning District of China. Since the Centre was going to be used as a furniture mall, the ultimate inspiration for its design has been taken from its very purpose, using semiotics. This abstraction was transferred into the physical form with the help of a digital design technique known as ‘Parametrics’. This allowed the concept to be retained throughout the entire façade whilst still maintaining the usability of the space. Continuity in the single material usage i.e. wood, allows the dynamic façade design to stand out, and yet blend in with the rest of the site.
Hongqiao World Centre Gallery
Hongqiao World Centre Gallery is the first to be completed out of the many buildings in the Hongqiao World Centre complex. Griffiths designed the entire structure to resemble a ‘cloverleaf’. Its metal panels and glass sheets help effectively add layering to the organically shaped façades. The design ensures that ample natural light is being allowed to flood into the gallery, essential to its purpose. The structure has been designed such that it connects to the nearby buildings via pedestrian pathways. The organic forms of the Gallery create a lasting impact and therefore, greet the visitor with visuals that differ and stun from every angle.
Hong Kong, China
Designed as a redevelopment project, The Forum stands out as extraordinary even amidst other contemporary structures. Griffiths designed the structure to look like a delicately balanced glass cube. In spite of its unusual form, Griffiths managed to make the structure usable with easy circulation and ample natural light and ventilation. For the construction, diagrids have been used on the façades, which conveys slender form. The compact and holistic design of the building opens up the entire site visually and physically. The plaza surrounding the building frames the structures in a manner so dramatic that the cube looks almost mobile.
The Heart of Yiwu (under construction)
Keith Griffith’s belief of understanding the essence of a community before designing for it is visible through The Heart of Yiwu. The entire design incorporates various elements that depict the history of China in a contemporary manner. The form of the complex represents a Chinese character, which translates to ‘river’, which is an important trading element for the city of Yiwu. The historic wall of Yiwu is depicted through the large façade design and Chinese bricks are used to give texture to the other side. The circulation between the outdoors and indoors is kept continual and easy through the route which represents the ancient Chaoyang Gate. Therefore, the design is an equal-parts representation of the cultural and contemporary aspects of Yiwu city.
Land Experience Center
The Land Experience Center, true to its name, is an exhibition centre designed to introduce the company LAND to the public. The entire project has several elements to it, ranging from the exhibition hall to a multi-purpose room. The organic form of the design is derived from the undulating topography of the Xi’an locality. Therefore, the design captures the essence of the site, its surroundings and manages to connect with the visitor with its ‘familiar’ form and shape. The structure is designed as a portable installation, which helps deliver purpose of the design in an urban setting without getting restricted to a single permanent location.
Shenzhen Luohu Friendship Trading Centre (under construction)
Shenzhen Luohu Friendship Trading Centre is a redevelopment solution for an existing department store. Griffiths drew inspiration for the design from its purpose and hence, the design resembles various retail boxes being staggered up in dynamic and organic forms, which will further form a sustainable design. The organic form of the structure is derived from the beautiful ‘Calla Lily’, and therefore, the curtain wall wrapped around the main tower resembles the elegant petal, as do the translucent organic-shaped roofs that allow natural light to work its way through. The concept behind the Centre is that of creating an urban oasis. Therefore, Griffiths has incorporated elements like landscaped public spaces and terraces in the podium with organic roofs i.e. giants leaves to provide shading for leisure and activities; Griffiths has also included green balconies which would help the user form a connection with the urban surroundings whilst losing himself in this oasis.
Greenland East Village CBED Plots (under construction)
The Greenland East Village CBED Plots have been designed to comprise of residential, office, retail spaces and a tower. The design concept for the complex has been derived from the ice mountain concept, which would go to explain the undulating forms of the structures. The structures resemble mountain ranges and landscape terrains with fissures located at the foot of the mountain. Therefore, the entire complex has dynamic forms that would be constructed from glass and metal, which would help explain the concept visually to every user.
About the author:
Mahika Kothawade, studying in the 2nd year of Architecture, also has a keen interest in the art of journalism. This fascination has driven her to keep an up-to-date knowledge of architecture as well as current affairs, fashion and films.