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Interbuild: why it's worth the trip

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Ask an architect if they are planning to visit Interbuild, and they usually say, 'What for?' The AJ gives six good reasons to go

The architecture is worth seeing - well, some of it. The NEC, admittedly, is not exactly inspiring, but some of the stands are worth a visit in their own right. Check out the Emap stand, designed by Richard Hywel Evans, which is featured in this week's working detail (pages 45-47) and on the cover, and the Alumasc stand designed by David Marks Julia Barfield Architects, designers of the BA London Eye.

Birmingham buildings worth a visit include Brindleyplace with designs by the likes of Allies & Morrison, Associated Architects, Demetri Porphyrios, and Norman Foster, the new CBSO Centre by Associated Architects, and the Birmingham Foyer by Ian Simpson Architects.

It can be good for business. Interbuild has a programme of events which focus on the construction industry. Construction minister Nick Raynsford is the keynote speaker at a Movement for Innovation (M4I) conference, which looks at the impact that best practice initiatives have had on industry performance. The CPD-accredited 'Architects in Housing' conference focuses on the new statutory framework for planning and housing. There is also a conference devoted to assessing the impact the Egan initiative is likely to have on your business, and a series of masterclasses which look at best practice.

It's a trip into cyberspace. Architects can access the Internet, send and receive e-mails, find out how the Internet can reduce costs, and get advice on developing a company website at the Internet Business Centre in Hall 1.

Those interested in the impact of the Internet on buildings can see the first UK demonstration of an Internet home. The I-home from Echelon is a 'fully connected' house - find out exactly what this means, and learn about the consumer benefits in Hall 20.

You can learn more about products and specification than you ever wanted to know. As well as the countless exhibitors, Construction Plus will be launching Construction Intelligence, an extensive database of products which allows you to make specification choices on the computer screen. At present the database holds data on around one third of the products used in UK construction. The remaining products will be added over the coming months to create a comprehensive body of information. Users will be able to buy online, by credit card or on account.

Products will be available at trade prices and will be delivered to site within 24 hours. Construction Intelligence is free to the user. You can see Construction Intelligence at www.constructionplus.co.uk, or at the Emap stand at Interbuild.

Interbuild can inspire. More designorientated events include daily head-to-head events in the Total Lighting Exhibition with titles such as 'Architectural lighting is boring - and could be done better by entertainment professionals'. Piers Gough will run a class on light, colour and architecture in the Lighting Theatre in Hall 6, while Alex Lifschutz is among the speakers at a masterclass on the 10 essential ingredients for a 24-hour city, which will explore architectural techniques for creating vibrant, round-the-clock environments. Other contributors include artists Martin Richman and Ron Haselden, lighting designers Mark Major, Graham Phoenix and Mark Sutton-Vane and light and health scientists Jim Ure and Dr Nichol Clarke.

It is a journey into the surreal. One of the quirkier events on offer is the fashion show, running three times daily in Hall 1, where models will sport outfits made entirely of materials provided by Interbuild 2000 exhibitors and designed by final year students at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design.

Visitors can also see the results of a competition to design an installation inspired by personalities such as Naomi Campbell, Joan Collins and Morrissey.

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