Architects at Maber, of Leicester, help rebuild war torn Iraq
Architects at a Leicester firm are involved in a project to help rebuild areas of war-ravaged northern Iraq.
Maber, in De Montfort Street, is part of a construction consortium working with the Kurdistan government to modernise the region's infrastructure.
The project is in the early stages but it could involve Maber helping to build a technology university, a hospital, medical centres and a housing scheme.
Paul East, director of the Leicester office, said: "It's a really interesting project – the government there are looking to rebuild the infrastructure, starting with roads and highways and they want to deal with UK companies."
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The company has become involved in the Kurdistan project after being invited by Government export agency UKTI to join a consortium of companies trying to win work there.
Last year, Maber set up its international division, based in London, with the aim of winning overseas contracts, particularly in the Middle East.
The design and consultancy work will be carried out by architects working at the firm's city office, off New Walk.
Mr East said: "The whole reason we have opened the base in London was to try and break into Kurdistan – when you are talking to clients there they understand London whereas they would not have a concept of where Leicester is."
Closer to home, the firm is celebrating after its redesign of a 159-year-old factory in the city's cultural quarter won Leicester Civic Society's annual award for restoration.
The £1 million revamp of a former hosiery factory – that was a near ruin a year ago – has created Makers' Yard, a new space for 10 businesses to work from, ranging from fashion designers to potters.
Another high profile city council project Maber is involved with is the innovation centre at Leicester's long-delayed science park near the National Space Centre, where there will be high-quality offices and workspaces for up to 55 new businesses in the science, technology and knowledge sectors.
Mr East said: "I think the city mayor has the right idea – it's not about shrinking back, we need to be pushing improvement projects through and creating jobs.
"It's really good to see this is happening in Leicester."
Maber, set up 30 years ago by Colin Maber, also has offices in Nottingham and Derby. The Leicester office opened five years ago with five staff and now employs nine people.
Mr East said: "We saw Leicester as an opportunity to pick up work from further south.
"We set up just as Northern Rock collapsed but we've done well here because I think we are a hard-working practice and we have never limited ourselves to one sector.
"At one point, 70 per cent of the work we were doing was residential and we've changed that to get us through the hard times."
The Leicester office has designed an NHS urgent care centre in Corby despite having had no experience of the healthcare sector when it bid for the contract.
Mr East said: "I think we were able to demonstrate our innovation on other projects we had done and we got planning for it within two months and six months later it was built."
The Leicester office has doubled its turnover in the last year and 65 per cent of its clients are repeat business, said Mr East.
"We are looking to expand the London office but will be picking up that work and doing it in Leicester which hopefully means we can expand here, too."