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50 50 PAUL FINCH Deputy chairman, CABE

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What is the best building of the past 50 years?

The Farnsworth House because the experience of it is such a revelation.

I wouldn't have thought that a single-storey house could be so infused with such an aura, and could achieve such a harmonious relationship between materials, space and the landscape outside.

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

The innovation which has changed the construction industry is the mobile phone. On one hand it symbolises the fragmentation of the industry with its myriad tiny units doing their own thing. Not a weakness, fragmentation is actually a strength: it explains why construction can cope with anything from kitchen extensions to the Channel Tunnel rail link. On the other hand, the mobile phone represents linkage and the ability to sequence events. Because you can communicate instantly you can make decisions on the basis of information rather than guesswork.

What is the best building product of the past 50 years?

Super-strength carbon reinforcement. It is already in use for the strengthening of bridges without necessarily closing them.

This material and developments like it offer the prospect of a new aesthetic in which strength and mass are no longer synonymous.

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

The coming together of architectural inspiration, cost analysis and construction efficiency in the name of combined working rather than as a preliminary to litigation. What it will require is some kind of Eganite philosophy allied to a cultural shift on the part of both public authorities and private contractors towards an understanding that good architecture is essential to the satisfaction of that generally ignored third party - the end users.

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

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