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Customer Success Story :: Aedas
Interview with Tim Power
16 December 2008
Tim Power Bsc (Hons) Regional Manager Aedas Imaging & Aedas Architects Ltd
Tim joined the practice in August 2000 following the completion of his Architectural Computer Aided Technology degree at the University of Huddersfield. He is responsible for overseeing Aedas Imaging operations. His scope covers business development, client management, team management, project visualization and design. His major projects include the Abu Dhabi Investment Council Headquarters, extensive work for ASDA Wal-Mart and also English Partnerships and further bid presentations for Calderdale, Norwich, Sheffield, Nottingham and Leeds Councils where he was actively involved in the BSF Bid management process.
Aedas is currently one of the leading architectural practices in the world, with offices in the U.K. and Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East. The practice employs over 1,900 staff globally and offers a range of multi-disciplinary design services for the built environment. In Europe, Aedas is driven by a growing complement of 680 staff working from 14 offices located in the U.K, Poland and Russia. Aedas’ history in the United Kingdom can be traced back to 1853, when the practice was then known as Abbey Hanson Rowe. Over the past 150 years, the Practice has established itself as a leader in the education, healthcare, commercial and residential sectors, with an expanding portfolio of transport and retail projects.
In Asia, Aedas has expanded from its established roots in Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China and South East Asia. Recently, Aedas has embarked on bold new projects in the Middle East market, specifically in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The Aedas brand has become recognized through the practice’s involvement in a wide range of exciting projects in Eastern Europe and Russia. In March 2006, US-based practice, Davis Brody Bond joined the Aedas Group, enhancing the practice’s global network with new skills and the opportunity to expand across the United States and South American markets. Aedas has enhanced its unique offer with the provision of services in imaging, research and development, sustainability and advanced modeling. The practice has dedicated groups of expert teams working in these areas. Globally, Aedas is a leading name in both private and public sector projects, with a strong presence in the education, commercial, healthcare, transportation, residential, civic and cultural, retail and research sectors.
The Aedas Imaging Team has been jointly working across all of Aedas’ U.K offices for the last seven years. This level of joint collaboration enables the team to resource projects simultaneously from more than one office, as well as combining and exchanging skills most suitable to each project. Whilst the imaging team constitutes an independent element of the business, thus providing services to other architectural practices, it benefits from the direct contact with the core Aedas business operation as an architectural practice. As a result of this, the team boasts an enhanced knowledge and understanding of building form, frequently placing them a class above other modeling and imaging practices. The workload and variation throughout the team is diverse, spanning from simple modeling and enhanced CGI stills, through to animation and real-time/real video montages. On a large scale the frequency of strategic masterplanning work within the Aedas architectural business has more recently expanded the scope of the imaging and modeling team. This link with Aedas is crucial to ensuring that the imaging team remains at the cutting edge of technology and at the forefront of design communication.
In competition with the best in architectural visualization, images by the Aedas Imaging team have been successfully used as moving or still visual accompaniments for marketing events, site displays and TV appearances. The Imaging team comprises multi-talented individuals from a variety of backgrounds including interiors, graphic design and product design. We all have a certain level of architectural understanding which is paramount to the work we do. A good understanding of 3D space and an ability to read 2D plan and elevational drawings is essential for any visualizer. Understanding brief’s and what is required from the outset should be a given, but moreover these days is an ability to use and keep up-to-date on a variety of different software packages that help maintain the teams’ knowledge bank. The team continues to grow and develop our own in-house techniques, paying particular attention to increasing efficiencies and absorbing the increasing workload demands.
The 3D Working Process?
There is an ever-increasing demand for visualization throughout the architectural design, development and planning industry. Visualization is playing a crucial role in public engagement programmes, the sales and marketing of property, and in the provision of verifiable imaging to communicate more effectively with planning authorities. Our capacity to service Aedas’ internal design teams throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, as well as its global network and other practices and clients externally, is unique. Each project is generally developed within our set guidelines. This enables us to quickly formulate a plan of action which, in turn, gives us a better idea of the project requirements and initial timing. Our starting point is determined by the stages reached in the development of the building. If there are still major design tweaks to be completed then we will start on other aspects of the job that we know are set, such as the landscaping or internal furniture choices. However, the most important part of any visualization project is the ability to get camera viewpoint sign-off as early as possible; even if this means simply block modeling the building. Working within an architectural design studio does have significant advantages. As we are part of an on-going development of design and form, changes become inevitable in many of our projects. With this in mind, we will always model to accommodate this, however, how many changes and how long these extra tweaks take is always a challenging question.
One of the most time-consuming tasks is the placements of people within a scene, especially if they are animated. There is a lot of thinking behind the placement of people in order to direct the attention to a particular design feature or a section of the building. There have been many instances that we have come across within numerous software packages that have become laborious and time consuming to complete. To help us, we have developed script programs that streamline these particular points of the process which, inevitably, helps to increase our efficiencies.
Aedas Imaging is currently working on a range of projects around the world. These include skyscrapers in Dubai, housing developments in Kazakhstan, as well as supermarkets and commercial developments in the U.K. The team has continued to enhance its in-house facilities to allow for an expanded operation from its U.K. and international offices.
Abu Dhabi Investment Council HQ in the UAE
Competition entries were invited from a select list of practices with the objective of producing two landmark towers to accommodate offices for the Investment Council, providing working, private amenity, dining, and conference and meeting spaces for over 2000 employees. The clients’ brief was to provide a pair of outstanding landmark buildings of the highest architectural quality reflecting the standing and prominence of the Investment Council. The two towers occupy two neighbouring sites, located within close proximity to Al Qurum beach in the Eastern district of Abu Dhabi. Prominently situated along the Eastern Ring Road, the buildings will act as landmarks to the gateway to the city.
Abaya Seifullina is an exciting new landmark scheme for the international practice, and one of the many in the practice’s continuing portfolio of designs in the CIS region. The unique design is based on a jewel box concept, with key ‘crystal’ features punctuating the elevations visible to the streetscape and accommodating the various uses within the building on a series of platforms and suspended pods within the atrium.
The arrangement of the building will also maximize views to the surrounding mountains and aims to facilitate public circulation to the upper levels of the scheme. With its roof terrace, restaurant, café and rooftop public-viewing gallery, this design takes advantage of these impressive views. At street level, high-quality retail and the office entrances give vibrancy to the streetscape and public realm. Aedas architectural teams worked in close collaboration with the practice’s Research and Development Group and Aedas Imaging to produce the concept designs for the client, Platoon.
More on the projects?
Aedas Imaging has played a key part in prestigious projects including Bridgewater Place, Leeds, and the eagerly awaited £105 million scheme at Harbour City, to be wittingly marketed as ‘manyoo.’
Such is the accuracy now being achieved that scenes from these projects now carry warnings to alert casual observers to the virtual reality they are viewing. Now being the tallest building in Leeds, Bridgewater Place, its initial visuals offered an unbelievable degree of realism giving the viewer a sense of scale, lighting and reflection. The designs for the iconic manyoo scheme offered the opportunity to produce striking visuals that demonstrate this dramatic addition to the Salford Quay skyline.
Most of our projects use the V-Ray shader as a set standard. We have all become accustomed to using certain in-house techniques that reduce our rendering timescales dramatically. This enables us to be adaptable to our design teams’ last minute changes.
To date, our most rewarding project has been the Abu Dhabi Investment Council headquarters in Abu Dhabi. This project has currently been our most demanding owing to timescales and the complexity of the building, but also our most rewarding as we have won.
The awards? We have recently been nominated for the Ballistic Elemental and Expose Books. This includes three nominations for Expose and eight nominations for Elemental. V-Ray?
With many years of experience between the group using the 3ds Max's built-in render engines, the change to V-Ray was gradual but a pleasant one. We found instant increases in realism and became aware of performance increases for both internal and external renders. We have since refined our processes and materials to great effect, reducing overall production times.
Our choice to use V-Ray is not only about timescales. In order for there to be continuity between stages of projects, we rarely use other render engines.
When it is required, we tend to use the ‘V-Ray Scene Converter’ option when switching to a V-Ray render. The materials then need re-assignment and tailoring, however, so long as the scene to be converted is grouped by material, this process becomes a lot easier.
All of the Aedas Imaging team are proficient in CAD software as well as being specialists with 3ds Max. It is this integration of a number of different packages that allows the team to produce any type of geometric form from the simple to the more complex. On architectural projects, Aedas architects and architectural technicians also use Sketch Up, Revit, AutoCAD and some have a fundamental level of usage of 3ds Max.
Aedas Imaging is always learning new techniques to give it that extra edge above the competition. With its recent agreement with Autodesk to become a Chartered Customer and help trial and test upcoming versions of the 3DS Max software, the team is looking forward to continuing this development.
Aedas Imaging aspires to create the perfect image that best communicates the design ideas and concepts or the objectives of a proposal. The team is always exploring techniques employed throughout the film industry to enhance our animations. Future
In the V-Ray, we would like to see the following new features:
- A Glare Shader (post effect emulating solar glare)
- Integrated Ambient Occlusion
- Automatic animation set-up routine (user specified directory set-up)
- A function allowing V-Ray to set all save files to file directories
- Automatic submission of LC and IR maps including autosave files
- Auto-submit dependent to back-burner
- Material ID element antialias support