It has to be CAD. It has revolutionised the way we work and the shapes we can use to build.
When [Foster + Partners] designed the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank in the ’80s, we built it to +/-40mm. Now we can take our computer model straight to the fabricator and build to millimetre accuracy. At Swiss Re (pictured) the cladding and steelwork was fabricated so accurately that it was installed without problems – that wasn’t the case at Hong Kong.
In the old days you had to make every element the same size because that was how they were made and that was what was most efficient and economic. Now you can make everything different sizes because you can feed CAD information directly to the cutting machine. Until recently everything was rectangle; now you can have whatever shape you want and you can design and create prototypes more quickly. We can also draw more accurately – at full scale and in 3D.