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Greatest advance? That would be my computer

Computers are a strong contender for the greatest advance in construction, architects tell Ruby Kitching

Computer technology has made it easy to share information, calculate complex geometry and quickly produce and edit drawings. It also allows the structural efficiency of complex designs to be accurately mapped, influencing the types of materials selected by architects.

‘It would have been impossible to design the new Terminal 5 building at Heathrow Airport (pictured) without a completely integrated 3D-modelling approach,’ says Mike Davies, senior director at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.

Julia Barfield, director of Marks Barfield, nominated computers for their impact on architectural modelling. ‘With modelling software, if you need to make changes to dimensions, you can make them in relation to others.’ In the virtual workshop, Barfield says designs can be ‘tested to their limit’.

But not everyone agrees with this nomination. To read the list of nominations in full, visit

We would like to hear your thoughts and ideas to help compile the 10 theories, methods, materials and machines that have had the greatest impact in moving the construction industry forward.

Send your nominations to Corus Greatest Advance, New Civil Engineer, Greater London House, Hampstead Road, London NW1 7EJ, or email

Coming up Charles Walker, associate director at Zaha Hadid Architects, and Keith Clarke, chief executive of Atkins, reveal their thoughts on the greatest advance in construction.

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