Myanmar Business Today (MBT): Could you tell us about the major services of Aedas?
Gruffudd Owain (GO): Aedas is one of the world’s leading global architecture and design practices. We offer services in architecture, interior design, and landscaping and building consultancy for mixed-use, commercial, retail, residential, hospitality, infrastructure, social infrastructure, as well as master planning and urban design within Asia, the Middle East, Europe and America.
MBT: What is the biggest strength of Aedas?
GO: Aedas is built on the belief that great design can only be delivered by people with a deep social and cultural understanding of the communities they are designing for. In every commission we undertake, we first seek to understand the social and cultural nuances of the communities we design for.
Our global platform for creative excellence in design enables some of the world’s most talented designers to plug into the latest information and delivery systems they need to produce truly world-class design solutions, combining international expertise with local knowledge and delivery.
Our structure, global presence, and commitment to cutting-edge research and development help us deliver design excellence to clients wherever they are in the world.
MBT: What’s Aedas’ strategy in terms of Myanmar market?
GO: Aedas has been active in Myanmar since 2012. We are very positive about the opportunities available to us in the country and are actively involved in a significant portfolio of work with some of the top developers in Myanmar. The Aedas brand carries a strong emphasis on quality design, developing innovative buildable design solutions with a strong delivery team to ensure a quality product.
Within our Singapore office, we have a number of Burmese staff who give us a strong blend of internationally experienced and locally sensitive architects within the Aedas team. We have recently incorporated Aedas Myanmar Co Ltd as a formal registered company in Myanmar and will be looking to establish a permanent presence in due course.
Aedas has capacity and capability across all major sectors of the architectural spectrum, with key strengths in the mixed-use, office, retail, residential, infrastructure, social infrastructure, hospitality, as well as urban design and master planning sectors. In terms of project delivery, we have the capacity to deliver some of the largest projects in Asia such as The Star, designed by Andrew Bromberg of Aedas. We are also very strong in the infrastructure sector, having designed and delivered 30 Mass Rapid Transit stations in Singapore and the entire Dubai Metro. Another area of design expertise we have is in aviation projects, including the Hong Kong International Airport North Satellite and Midfield Concourse. We will definitely be looking at opportunities on designing infrastructure projects in the country when they become available and are confident that we will be able to bring our strong proficiency in this area to benefit the local projects.
MBT: What do you know about the architecture industry in Myanmar and what’s your take on Myanmar’s architectural standard?
GO: We have contacts of the Association of Myanmar Architects’ members and are actively working with them on our projects. The key priority for the industry is to first lobby for an Architect’s Act (draft of which has just been submitted to Parliament), which will define the role, responsibilities and professional conduct of the industry as development gathers pace in the country, as well as serve to protect the title and profession.
In terms of processes and procedures within the industry as a whole, many of the practicing firms in Yangon have internationally experienced architects who have exposure to current practice in overseas firms. It is important for these individuals to share their knowledge and experiences from off shore companies to strengthen and drive the industry forward in pursuit of quality and best practice standards.
We are aware that the overall city master plan, statutory and building code frameworks are currently being reviewed by the relevant authorities and that there is a transition that needs to happen in the adoption of international standards on items such as architectural material specifications and current fire code issues. I would suggest to leverage the experiences and knowledge of friends in ASEAN and to look at adopting codes and processes that best suit the region’s climate and specific socioeconomic demands.
MBT: What will be the most important thing for master planning and design of transit oriented developments (TOD)?
The Transit Oriented Design (TOD) principle has recently emerged as a major driving force in current urban design and master planning principles. It now drives fundamental planning policy in a number of ASEAN jurisdictions and is set to become the fundamental node in future city planning for the region, as our cities in the ASEAN region continue to grow at an unprecedented rate of urbanisation. In Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, we see TOD as an intrinsic part of the way these cities are evolving, and placing the transit component at the heart of this urban design revolution is key.
We understand that from the recent conclusion of the review of Yangon’s master plan, TOD is an aspect that will be featured in the next phase of the city’s development. As proponents of the TOD concept, we strongly advocate the embrace of medium and long term strategies for urban transport solutions. The main game is to manage the long gestation period of metro and mass transit systems, with short to medium term goals, by looking at bus and tram systems as interim solutions.
We usually expect a period of 10 years from inception to opening of metro systems, so the key issue is to start now on the strategic implementation of alternate transport systems to the car and aim for a progressive implementation of mass transit systems as part of the overall masterplan.