How different is it working
on a build in China compared
to Europe or the Americas?
It is very different. Not only from
country to country, but the regions
in China are different. It is a huge
country and there are variations in
the way people do things and even
the applicable regulations.
Conditions within which you are
building are also vastly different.
Climate changes between the north
and south are massive.
For example, we’ve got a project
with a developer for a training
base, located three hours north of
Beijing, highly elevated and very
cold. Our team has to consider
differing palettes of materials, as
well as various means in how they
are procured and the differing
regulations. The best way to get
around these issues is to have local
partners or LDIs (local design
institutes) for the projects. We
typically take our concept and do
a set of design intent drawings up
to RIBA Stage 3, and then the LDI
partner would pick it up and
produce detailed design and
working drawings, with AFL
assuming an overseeing role.
What stadium design trends
are you seeing more of?
For soccer in developing countries,
there is a focus on creating an
authentic soccer environment that
brings fans close to the action,
along with lighting and audio
systems to offer fans a more
There’s been a very positive
response to the approach taken at
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in
respect of a properly designed-in
alternative sport. That stadium is
a huge leap forward, and we’re
getting many clients asking us to
benchmark their corporate offer
against it. The concept of the club
concourse is now basically the
general admission concourse – it’s
like the US model, where fans can
gather with better F&B options.
There is also another trend that I
have been noticing with stadium
size where you don’t have to go
large, you can go better – so more
consideration is being given to the
experience. This is particularly
evident in Major League Soccer.
Tell us about your work with
Millwall FC and the plans
for its new stadium
Millwall has fully embraced our
design for the elevation and
expansion of its stadium on the
basis that we understood the
delicate nature of the project. We
went right back to the bones of the
scheme, understanding that the
club didn’t want to move away but
they did want to make a change to
capacity and comfort if they wanted
to get to the Premiership.
We integrated the nature of the
area, so we embraced industrial
architecture of the railways that
surround the site and injected
contemporary, effi cient and green
materials for new build sections.
They’ve been sensible with
capacity of around 30,000 and they
have a sustainable approach that
can incrementally uplift the
capacity when needed. Flexibility
is always the key.
Rizhao stadium, China
Lusail Stadium, Qatar
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