Club welcomes world-leading architect to VP ReceptionDate Posted: 09 August 2018
Last month we held our annual Vice President’s luncheon and were delighted to welcome the esteemed architect Keith Griffiths to address the Club and its members. Born north of Cardiff in Merthyr and raised in St Davids, Keith has enjoyed an illustrious career spanning 40 years.
Having graduated from St John’s College, University of Cambridge, he had spells with Arup and Foster and Partners before starting his own architecture practice in Hong Kong – Hackett & Griffiths. In 1999, he created Aedas which has since grown to become the seventh largest practice in the world, employing over 1,200 people across 12 offices.
Here’s what he had to say:
“We really followed the traditional pattern of business and carried out a whole series of high rise buildings [in Hong Kong]. Remember this is the first time that there was a high-rise building [in the then British colonial outpost].
“We were very lucky because the British had to leave Hong Kong and just as a last show, the UK government decided it would build a whole new airport, whole new town and a railway system – I was fortunate to work on each of these projects.
“We built a lot of them, then we got onto the industrial buildings, then went down to Vietnam and built a few buildings down there - we took that expertise and exported it across the world.
“What we learned in that journey is that you need to understand culture when your designing in order to create the design - it’s not enough to sit in London and design a building for Beijing.
“In fact, we are one of the few companies in the world that really understand the design. We do that by establishing offices in each and every one of those cities that we are designing for. Relocating them to those cities.
“We need to give our client an edge, designs are important – especially in those cities that are growing at an incredible rate such as Shanghai and Hong Kong, the latter alone being a growing city with no tax and no limit to its own ambition.
“The rate of growth in urbanisation across Asia is accelerating apace. In 1990, we had an urban population 300 million, and by 2015 that stood at 1.3 billion.
“Over the same period, the number of cities has increased from 400 to 2,000. It’s never happened in the history, even the history of Europe doesn’t come close to this. In fact, by 2020, 40% of the population will be living within 5 city clusters by 2020 and 55% of the economy will be there.
“This is pushing people together to drive this economy forward. Urbanisation on a huge scale. But what does this mean?
“It’s certainly beneficial to think about high density we can create clusters of high density there will be less usage of roads, less pollution, more sustainability. Look at London, Paddington, Euston, Kings Cross they are all developing city hubs. We can do the same in China and predict where density will increase over the years.
“What happens when you go to that level of density, well you need more public space? There’s only so much pavement or road - we need more space, the vision of the city in the future would be parks in the sky. Different levels. The roads will just be used for the traffic the pedestrians will not walk on the pavement.”