Travels with Aedas by Anneliese O'Young Aedas, HK$180 (HK$70 to charity) From Hong Kong's futuristic Sunny Bay MTR station and Macau's 4.7-square km Venetian, through Guangzhou, Wuxi and Beijing to Russia, Poland, Britain, the Middle East and the Americas, Travels with Aedas is a showcase of international architectural design. Aedas, the second-largest architecture firm on the planet, with 2,500 staff in 40 offices across 18 countries, is responsible for some of the world's most imaginative and eye-catching buildings. Dubai's twisting-spined 25-storey Iris Crystal and the 518-metre Pentominium - the world's tallest residential building - are two examples of the kind of visually stunning projects the company undertakes. In the Americas, which accounted for more than 11 per cent of the company's turnover in 2006, Aedas has taken on a role in the construction of the plaza at New York's National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Centre site, due to open in 2011 on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. The plaza, named Reflecting Absence, designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker in association with Davis Brody Bond Aedas, 'comprises a 24,000-square-metre field of trees with two large voids of reflecting pools situated on the footprint of the fallen towers'. Closer to home, in addition to Sunny Bay station and the Venetian casino, Aedas has designed the EcoPark in Tuen Mun and the North Satellite Concourse building at Chek Lap Kok, as well as Beijing's Fortune Plaza, North Star office towers and the US$256 million, 5.27 million sq ft R&F City residential, retail and hotel complex. Other Asian projects include the elegant Saigon Tower in Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore's sci-fi style Civic & Cultural Centre and the US$3.6 billion Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort, as well as the Burhani Park-Atlas Mills development in Mumbai and the 78-storey mixed-use KPT Tower in Karachi. Although the focus of this seeming travel book is really architecture, there is another aspect of Aedas that stands out, and it is an important one. The company's ethos is an example of the synergy of man and machine. Profiles of its officers and designers show that Aedas is as much about its people as its achievements. 'We continue our commitment to mentor, train and develop our family of talented designers,' a joint chair statement reads in the introduction. 'As architects, we are aware of our wider responsibility to contribute and lead in the societies we design for. We have developed our corporate social responsibility programme to exemplify our core belief of improving the lives of our staff, local communities and society at large.' That is surely a lesson for these troubled, cynical times, with many companies still myopically viewing their staff as expensive cogs in the machine, to be exploited to the full with minimum outlay. Produced by Kevin Sinclair & Associates, the company formerly run by the late South China Morning Post columnist, with text by journalist Anneliese O'Young and photographs by Marcus Oleniuk - both Hong Kong-based - Travels with Aedas offers an armchair around-the-world trip that shows how the global language of architecture gains dialects to serve the needs of local communities. If that's not reason enough to buy the book, there is another, humanitarian one. Aedas is donating HK$70 from every sale to the South China Morning Post's Homes for Hope campaign, begun last month to raise HK$18 million to build houses and infrastructure in two earthquake-hit villages in Sichuan. This is a chance for readers to join Aedas' architects in helping disaster victims rebuild their lives.