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CAD's model performance The use of CAD isn't universal, but it's moving in that direction - and some favourite packages are emerging. RESEARCH BY MIRZA & NACEY.

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Slightly more than two-thirds of architectural practices are using cad in some form, research by Mirza & Nacey shows. The team, which conducts the quarterly workload studies sponsored by Stannah and published in the aj, questioned its respondents earlier this year about their use of cad. It found that, while cad was universal in the larger practices, its use fell off with practice size, so that only 38 per cent of 1 to 2 person practices employ cad. The geographical distribution was less strongly marked, and probably linked to the regional mix of practice sizes. London is the most clued up, with 77 per cent of its practices using cad; Wales the most Luddite, with cad in use in only 60 per cent of practices.

Not surprisingly, all those practices which use cad use it for 2d drafting. Nearly half of them (48 per cent) also use it for 3d modelling, and visualisation has the smallest take-up, with only 27 per cent of cad users (20 per cent of all practices) using it. There is an odd regional split, with Scotland the most advanced. Although it lags behind London in total use of cad, it is the leader in both 3d cad and in the use of visualisation.

But part of the fascination of this study lies in the fact that it looks not only at how many people use different types of cad, but at which packages they use. Autocad dominates in both the 2d and the 3d sectors, being the choice of more than half and nearly half of all practices respectively. Archicad on the other hand increases its usage as the sophistication of the application increases, being used in only 8 per cent of the practices that do 2d drafting; in 16 per cent of those which do 3d modelling; and, when it comes to visualisation, drawing neck and neck with Autocad with 28 per cent of users.

The researchers have also analysed usage of cad by job type. It is used most widely on industrial projects (84 per cent) and least widely, unsurprisingly, on housing at 36 per cent. Four-fifths of design-and-build jobs use cad, but only 54 per cent of those done through traditional construction techniques. Usage also increases with job size, and £100,000 seems to be the vital cut-off. Below that, it is only used on 32 or 33 per cent of jobs. In the £100,00 to £199,999 category, this figure nearly doubles to 61 per cent of all jobs.

Because cad use is most widespread on the largest jobs, this means that, in terms of the value of work done, it dominates. It is used for more than 90 per cent of all office, retail and leisure new-build work, and similarly for more than 90 per cent of office, leisure, mixed and public non-housing refurbishment. Even with housing, the least intense application, 56 per cent by value of all work is done using cad. These are salutary figures for those small practices which have not yet taken the leap into using cad.

Architects cad Survey is published by Mirza & Nacey Research at £200. Contact 01243 551302.

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