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Measured approach to designing buildings

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The New Metric Handbook has clearly lost its newness since its publication in 1979. A revised reprint in 1981 and 10 reprintings since attest to its continuing relevance to designers. At last we have the second edition, simply titled Metric Handbook*.

Most obviously, the new edition is 50 per cent thicker than the old one. Within that, the basic format of chapters on functional types, such as schools, and on technologies, such as acoustics, remains. There are some new chapters, such as student housing, public services buildings, fire and services distribution. Others topics are reorganised, such as health care, eating and drinking, sports and dwelling. And of course many of the chapters have been generally revised.

This revision is against a background of the continuing Europeanisation of standards. Editor David Adler points to the problem of keeping track of these changes, offering information where available in the chapter bibliographies.

As with the first edition, there will be questions about particular sets of data. Nor can the handbook deal with every option. And standard data inevitably feel somewhat prescriptive. But this is a signifi-cantly improved version of the handbook.

The main innovation is the accompanying cd-rom*, which contains over 1700 symbols and drawings that can be searched using keywords (including dimensions). The results of the search appear as one or more screens of thumbnail images of the drawings. These can be viewed or downloaded to a cad system. The cad systems with which the cd is compatible are:

l Autocad releases R12-R14 and Autocad lt. A new drop-down menu and toolbar are added to the cad system. For Autocad R14 onwards, there is a search engine allowing drawings to be inserted using ActiveX technology

l MicroStation 95, MicroStation se and MicroStation TriForma. It works through the cd's search mechanism or the cad system browser

l Visio's Intellicad 98. A search path is added to the support folder.

The cd is for pcs only. In the minimum installation the set-up files are held on your hard disk, with data drawn from the cd. Holding it all on the hard drive takes about 100mb.

* Metric Handbook: Planning and Design Data David Adler (editor). Second edition. Architectural Press. £29.99. The cd-rom has the same title and editor. £150. Opening offer - handbook + cd-rom £150. Both from Butterworth- Heinemann, tel 01865 310366.

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