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Q & A: Alan Francis - Gaunt Francis Architects

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When and where were you born?

June 1957, Llandadoc.

What is your favourite building and why?

Still probably Simpsons in Piccadilly for its elegance, innovation and sense of style.

What is your favourite restaurant/meal?

Egyptian/Lebanese at El Kebabgy restaurant in Cairo.

What vehicles do you own?

A 4.8 Range Rover for driving through the Brecon Beacons and a 4-litre Jaguar XJS Celebration convertible for getting the Sunday papers (99 per cent of the time I travel by train, of course).

What is your favourite film?


What is your favourite book?

Aros Mae by Gwynfor Evans.

What is your favourite design classic?

The Eileen Gray extendable side table - I bought one for £5 in a secondhand market many moons ago without realising what it was.

What is the worst building you have ever seen and why?

Lots of small red boxes foisted onto a generally uninterested public by national housebuilders trying to recreate the ideal suburbia.

Who or what is your biggest architectural influence and why?

My late father, who taught me the rudiments of building construction (how to create a cattle shed in the Brecon hills over a weekend). And later on Peter Aldington, who taught me how to do the same, but beautifully.

Who is the most talented architect you have worked with?

Richard Parnaby, now chairman of the Design Commission for Wales.

If you hadn't been an architect what would you have been?

No 8 for Wales.

What would your advice be to architectural students?

Learn to draw beautifully by hand.

What would your motto be?

Get your retaliation in first.

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