“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Aedas is one of the top international architecture and design firms. The foundation of the business is the conviction that great design can only be produced by those who have a profound awareness of the social and cultural contexts of the communities they are designing for. The firm’s distinctive organisational structure, global reach, and dedication to leading-edge research and development are evidence of its goal to provide clients with design excellence wherever they may be.

Internationally renowned architectural design studio, Aedas, creates ground-breaking designs. Keith Griffiths, the principal architect, founded a small business in Hong Kong that gradually expanded after being involved with infrastructure projects, including airports and railroads. They perform all types of design work, and they operate under the motto “You name it, we do it.”

The built structures have the needs of the people at their core and can be found in up to 12 different sectors, including residential, retail, mixed-use, corporate, education, and hospitality. The team has approximately 1200 members, is active in 13 countries, and values originality.

Planning | Ocean Heights

The increasing global trend towards urbanisation has greatly increased the difficulties in urban design and master planning. Population growth, energy use, transport demands, pollution, and the need for wealth must be considered on a scale that has never been done before. Aedas creates locations all around the world that address these issues. By combining global expertise with in-depth local research, they are developing prosperous contemporary urban landscapes that are sustainable in the real world.

Ocean Heights

At 310 meters, the 82-story Ocean Heights apartment complex in the upscale Dubai Marina district is the fifth-tallest residential structure in the world. The structure has a dramatic twist that is both a physical reality and a visual metaphor, not content with simply being tall. It appears a massive hand has turned a squarely constructed tower’s top and forced the column to distort down.

After speaking with the developer DAMAC, Aedas was given two weeks to build a 72-floor, 60,000-square-metre tower. They began working on the structural design after the experts declared it feasible. The developers abruptly declared their desire for 82 stories. This was for a 310-meter-tall structure. And they required a week for the design to be finished. They had already sold pre-constructed flats. Additionally, they had begun selling from the ground up, thus securing every story above.

Consistency in apartment layouts throughout the building was one of the client’s main demands. That was not feasible, given the characteristic twist of the building. Aedas’ solution was to set up a system of uniform modules four meters wide. Only the front of the module changes to produce the outside twist; the rest of the module’s sides stack up the whole length of the structure. As a result, the structural system was made simpler, and fewer building materials were used.

Ocean Heights by Aedas - Sheet1
Ocean Heights ©The Torque

In this extremely hot climate, it seems counter-intuitive for the tower’s front elevation, which faces the ocean, to be covered in glass. However, the glass is offered in insulated panels with a low-E coating that offers sun protection. Insulation and coating enable natural daylighting while lowering the demand for mechanical cooling.

The structure twist begins at the base on three of the four sides. Atop, the fourth side remains consistently orthogonal. The building has overtopped its neighbours by the fifty-fifth level, and the twisting diminishes the extent of the elevation facing southwest, hence reducing solar gain. Importantly, residences with boring views at lower levels now have views of the ocean and Dubai‘s most northern Palm Isle from floors 50 and higher.

Ocean Heights by Aedas - Sheet2
©The fifth tallest residential structure in the world


Ken Wai, the Global Design Principal of Aedas, has about 30 years of experience in architectural design and is a graduate of the University College London’s Bartlett School of Architecture. His design philosophy has always been one of simplicity, which he summarises with the “One Move Architect,” or using a single approach as a guiding concept in the face of all issues. Ken Wai holds that every design has a crux. Rather than complicating matters by attempting to account for every possibility, a straightforward solution can be derived by simply reading that crux. 

“A project is accomplished if I can understand the substance and connotations without the architect’s explanation.”

References: Ocean Heights

  1. (no date) Aedas – the skyscraper center. Available at: https://www.skyscrapercenter.com/company/9 (Accessed: April 23, 2023). 
  2. Architecture (2019) Aedas. Available at: https://www.aedas.com/en/what-we-do/architecture (Accessed: April 23, 2023). 
  3. Ken Wai shares his design philosophy with Bloomberg Businessweek (2021) Aedas. Available at: https://www.aedas.com/en/news-and-media/media/ken-wai-shares-his-design-philosophy-with-bloomberg-businessweek (Accessed: April 23, 2023). 
  4. Nishar, D. (2022) An inside look at the studios of Aedas, RTF | Rethinking The Future. Available at: https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/2022/12/05/a8707-an-inside-look-at-the-studios-of-aedas/ (Accessed: April 23, 2023). 

Liyana Lajudheen is an ardent reader and a film enthusiast. Currently pursuing architecture in India, she is keen on travelling and would like to explore different cultures. Though she treads lightly on the technical aspects, she is a vivid imaginer and can go places in just a flick of a moment.