AFL Architects | Welcome to Wrexham (and other success stories).
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Welcome to Wrexham (and other success stories).

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Recently, John sat down with UKREiiF and discussed his experiences, the transformation of leisure facilities, and the impact of architecture on community regeneration.

"John, tell us about your role at AFL Architects and your experience in sports and leisure projects."

I oversee sports and leisure projects at AFL Architects.

We've been involved in football and sports for many years, and we've seen significant changes over the last decade.

Clubs are now integrating with communities, and stadiums are becoming a large part of the leisure facilities.

"You're also involved in music venues and regeneration projects, can you share some examples?"

Of course, we've worked on projects like the Connexin Live in Hull, which helped to regenerate a rundown part of the city.

It's not just about the venues, it's about rethinking what the leisure industry means to a city.

For example, in Swansea, one of the arenas we've worked on is part of a regeneration process that aims to bring life back to city centres.

"How do these projects impact the local economy?"

They create footfall and bring in businesses, jobs, and a better sense of self-esteem.

Its about enlivening a town or city, bringing activity back into the city center and making people proud of where they come from.

It's not just about the leisure facility; it's about the entire local economy, including pubs, restaurants, hotels, and any other business that would benefit from a larger public footfall really.

"What considerations do you have when creating designs and plans for these projects?"

We start with placemaking, considering how it fits into the urban landscape.

Then we look at the economic piece, ensuring viability and sustainability, both financially and environmentally.

We also consider the business plan and case, and make sure we're hitting all the right notes.

"Can you give a specific example of a project that excites you?"

Southport's Floral hall is one of the most exciting projects I've worked on recently. It's designed as a theater and music venue with an exhibition center.

I believe it will have a dramatic impact on the town. Connexin Live is another great success, transforming the city's image.

"Tell us about your involvement in football."

I've worked with Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC, and other Premier League teams.

As you know, I'm working with Wrexham Football Club at the moment, which has some interesting owners.

The success of the football club reflects in the wider community, transforming how people feel about the city.

"Have you met Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney?"

I have, but it was online. They've added a real sparkle to the town, but it remains quite grounded.

"Not every town can have endorsement or backing like that. What then?"

Glad you asked, that's when the Levelling Up Fund should come in.

It's about making the right move in the right town at the right time. Not just for vanity projects.

"Interesting, how do UKREiff's values reflect AFL Architect's?"

UKREiF's values match our aspirations closely.

The relevance of the projects, funding streams, and open conversations about sustainability and regeneration resonates with what we're doing. It's about improvement and development, regardless of the size of the town or city.

"Thanks John, you've been a 'great sport'."

That's a very good dad joke, I like it.

This interview was originally published on UKREiiF, and can be found here.