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50 / 50

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NEIL SPILLER Architect and cyber-guru

What is the best building of the past 50 years?

Ronchamp. It doesn't play by any of the rules. It's clumsy and beautiful at the same time. One of my tutors reckoned that he and a friend went to see it and his friend had an orgasm when he saw it.

Tutors! I hate all that white, clean and neat Mediterranean concrete Modernism. Which admittedly was Corb's responsibility too. But he got funky at the end.

What is the most significant innovation of the past 50 years?

The virtual world and wonderful things like amazon. com and businesses which are a combination of virtual and actual.

We've only seen the start of it. It has also put an end to the dreaded Decon of, say, Zaha and Peter Wilson, and allowed in the neo-avant garde of, say, Greg Lynn and Ben van Berkel.

And the best building product?

It's difficult to think of a specific product because building technology hasn't progressed much in the past 50 years. It's been more of the same, so I'm going to pick advances in plumbing, such as being able to pump effluent up vertically from basements. Maybe I'm being autobiographical here because we have the plumber around a lot for our macerator.

What innovation do you hope to see in the next 50 years?

Scientists already call the next 50 years the deep future. Anything is possible but the big event will be the commercial application of nanotechnology - the manipulation of matter atom by atom - by molecule-sized factories.

It's the ultimate alchemical technology in which you can change things into other things, providing you have the materials to hand. They are already designing small robots that can swim around the arteries and scrape off viruses but this is an order of smallness beyond that.

These interviews by Sutherland Lyall will form the basis of the 50/50 exhibition at Interbuild 2002.

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