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Celeb language hits Aedas divorce

One month we are laughing at the latest bit of celebrity speak – and the next it is being used, almost seriously, in the business of architecture.

Yesterday in Building Design, Brian Johnson, now chair of AHR, used the phrase ‘conscious uncoupling’ to describe the break up of the Aedas empire, with the UK arm, now AHR,  spinning off as a separate practice. This knowingness, of course, is a great way of showing that Johnshon is unperturbed by the changes. All splits can be difficult, and however much people say that it is positive, there is always a suspicion lurking.

This one seems amicable, and it has some interesting lessons. The old Aedas, one of the UK’s biggest practices, had a strong design signature in the Far East and a very different profile, with a lot of schools work, in the UK. It grew out of a take-over of a Hong Kong practice and for a while there seemed to be a synergy. But global practices only work if they can share skills and attitudes and in this case there was obviously too much difference.

Good luck to both the new practices. It is interesting that the ‘new’ Aedas, the international practice, will have a strong design studio in London. And, if you really want an indication of how things have changed, have a look at the photo of the four principals. Once upon a time formal shots were all suits and ties. This time, between the four, there is only one jacket and a very consciously casual aesthetic.

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