September 26, 2005
New Study Looks at European AEC Market
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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About this Issue….

Welcome to AECWeekly! Results of a major European industry study “New Business Potentials for Architects and Engineers” just completed by Maisberger Whiteoaks on behalf of the Nemetschek Corporation, a software supplier for design, build and management of buildings and real estate, were announced at the end of August. In this case, the study is a thorough investigation of what potential and challenges lie ahead for architects and engineers in Europe and the UK.

AECWeekly is a news magazine featuring important industry news profiles, a summary of recently published AEC product and company news, customer wins, and coming events. Brought to you by AECCafe.

AECWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Agreements/Alliances, Announcements, Wins, New Products, Around the Web, and Upcoming Events.

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Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

New Study Looks at European AEC Market

By Susan Smith

Independent studies conducted by companies hired by technology providers have become a powerful way of getting a message across to the public, a public that is increasingly deluged by sales hype. One way or the other, the technology providers who request these studies have a non-altruistic goal in mind, however, the resulting study is usually valuable to the industry as a whole and thereby merits notice.

Results of a major European industry study “New Business Potentials for Architects and Engineers” just completed by Maisberger Whiteoaks on behalf of the Nemetschek Corporation, a software supplier for design, build and management of buildings and real estate, were announced at the end of August. In this case, the study is a thorough investigation of what potential and challenges lie ahead for architects and engineers in Europe and the UK.

A recent
press release cited that growing competitive pressure, more demanding customers and new legal requirements are among the greatest challenges for UK architects and engineers. The Asbestos Directive and the EU Energy Certificate is a big issue in the UK.

Overall the survey confirmed positive results for the industry, and comparisons between the European results shows that architects and engineers have similar problems throughout the different countries. Fortunately, optimism is returning to the industry. The research institutes predict growth rates of up to two percent for the European construction sector.

There is growth expected in the conversion of existing buildings sector, with 50% of respondents believing that this sector holds opportunities for the market. Other areas of strong growth are expected for ecological building, building for specific age groups, consulting services. Building owners are beginning to consider the building's lifecycle and the need for consulting services and solutions that can deliver that complete end-to-end workflow from the moment of groundbreaking.

74% of British AEC companies say that software has a significant influence on the success of their businesses. Their greatest product need is for products that handle construction/CAD solutions. Visualization is also mentioned as a key area. Primary concerns for a successful AEC software solution are: ease of use and a good price/performance ratio. Actually respondents considered all of the characteristics surveyed, which included manufacturers' reputation, amount of training required, etc., important.

When queried about reasons for switching providers, the most important reasons cited included improved service or a better price/performance ratio.

Interestingly, British respondents identified investment in human resources (38 percent) as a most important aspect of meeting specific challenges in today's market, while on average only 20 percent of the European practices regarded this aspect as important.

European AEC Market

A total of 767 companies across Europe participated in the survey on the subject of “business potentials for architects and engineers.” The subject of the survey was the past, present and future of the industry.

A random sampling method was used to select the respondents, and they were broken down by country as follows:

UK 100 companies

Germany 152 companies

Austria 94 companies

Switzerland 68 companies.

Italy and Spain 101 for each country

France 100

Czech Republic 51

According to figures released by the Collegi d'Arquitectes de Catalunya (COAC), there are approximately 420,000 architects in Europe. Most architects were found in Italy and Germany. The following is a breakdown of the country figures for 2002:

Germany 111,741

Italy 99,344

Spain 35,496

United Kingdom 30,600

France 27,000

According to statistics published by the Euroconstruct Group (December 2004), five countries make up the major players in the European construction industry: the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

What do architects and engineers think of software products? The study states that the competition is dominated by Autodesk, followed by Nemetschek, Graphisoft and Bentley. Autodesk is ahead in terms of “functional scope and image.” In terms of quality of service, Nemetschek is in first place.

British AEC Market

British architects and engineers consider the construction/CAD sector as the number one priority when it comes to the range of functions in an ideally-configured AEC solution. 71% of British companies state that their ideal software should contain construction/CAD functions. Visualization, construction physics and cost planning rank next.

Functions of an Optimal AEC Solution



Construction physics

Cost planning


Facility management

A survey of customer groups revealed that 83 percent of AutoCAD users place the greatest importance on construction/CAD functionality, while VectorWorks users (47% of the total) place more value on visualization.

Important Features of AEC Software

Ease of use

Price / performance ratio

Good manufacturer reputation

Minimal training requirement

Extensive support / service

Support of data

(level of integration)


High affinity with the industry

Extensive functions

Personal recommendation

All of the customer groups placed the highest importance on ease-of-use and price/performance ratio second. AutoCAD users were most vocal about this point and ArchiCAD customers wanted scalability and a high level of integration above all. VectorWorks customers valued personal recommendation most highly.

In the UK, of the 100 respondents surveyed, 92 percent of companies use CAD software and most commonly 68% use Autodesk software (ADT, AutoCAD, Revit). Five percent use Nemetschek's Allplan and 15% use VectorWorks. Also used are software from Bentley and Graphisoft. Some companies also use multiple providers.

European Market

Six in ten European construction projects are related to new-build developments. Areas of construction and planning include:

Residential construction

Commercial construction

Interior architecture

Town and landscape planning

Technical building equipment

Road construction

Prefabricated housing

Facility management

Bridge construction

Water-related building

Surveying, statics, expert reports

Although in the UK, architects and engineers have a positive outlook, in the European construction sector, that is not necessarily the case in all the countries. Germany plays a key role, although it has gradually lost ground since 1998. Germany's share of the European building volume has fallen since then, according to information from Euroconstruct, from 26 to 19 percent. Next in the rankings are France (14.6 percent), Italy (13.3 percent), the United Kingdom (13.0 percent) and Spain (11.8 percent).

Most companies are focused on residential construction, and 7 out of 10 companies have handled projects in this sector over the past 12 months.


Imagistics International Inc. announced that Oce N.V. and Imagistics have entered into a definitive agreement for Oce to acquire all the outstanding shares of Imagistics for US$42.00 per share in cash. The transaction values Imagistics at approximately US$754 million, including net debt of approximately US$68 million. To accomplish the acquisition in the most efficient manner, Oce has agreed to launch a tender offer to buy all of the outstanding common shares of Imagistics.

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-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.


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