China's rapidly growing building design and construction sector could be poised for an extreme makeover as companies from the United States, Britain and Hong Kong introduce a new generation of digital tools to mainland projects. That change is expected to stimulate development and promote savings and greater collaboration - from design and engineering to fabrication, construction project management and on-site construction activities - in mainland building activities, large and small. Los Angeles-based Gehry Technologies has developed an advanced, three-dimensional software application called Digital Project, which is being pushed by several British and Hong Kong firms to replace outdated two-dimensional computer-aided, paper-based design methods. Malcolm Davies, chief operating officer at Gehry Technologies, said: 'We are offering a better way of working in the construction industry, and we see a vast opportunity in China to expand the use of Digital Project.' Gehry Technologies, which recently completed consulting work on the Beijing Olympic Stadium, plans to pursue more software and services deals on the mainland. 'By applying the most advanced [design and construction] technology, China will be able to design and build more efficiently than has been possible in any country before,' said Stephen Au, managing director at Hong Kong manufacturing consultancy MTech Engineering. Mr Davies said building projects around the world had become increasingly complex, and poor data co-ordination between designers, builders and other contractors typically resulted in cost overruns of up to 20 per cent during construction. 'Companies are looking for solutions to substantial, costly, real-world construction problems,' he said. Launched in the United States and Britain last month, the personal computer-based Digital Project software supports the creation of a comprehensive project database and building information-modelling system. The set-up is geared to help reduce error in the building process, integrate financial and project-management data with project geometry and cut costs involved with 2D, paper-based design processes. The Digital Project technology is based on Catia V5 software from French firm Dassault Systemes, which developed a 3D product-development program for the aerospace, automotive and manufacturing industries. The Digital Project package costs from US$20,000 to US$30,000. Mr Davies said Gehry Technologies planned to boost its marketing, technical support and consulting resources in Hong Kong and Britain, as companies in these markets became more involved in mainland construction projects. Gehry Technologies is building a network of alliances with organisations that shared its goals for industry change, including professional services firms, product developers and government and academic research institutions. It is also looking to rent out its software to small building design and construction firms to widen the availability of its software in the industry. China's construction sector, worth US$122 billion in the first half of this year, is forecast to grow 11.2 per cent annually to 2008. In Hong Kong, Gehry Technologies has appointed local Dassault Systemes partner MTech Engineering as its distributor throughout China. CenitDesktop, a business partner in Britain, last month made the first delivery of Digital Project to London-based engineering construction firm Adams Kara Taylor. Digital Project was built on 15 years of experience gained by internationally acclaimed American architecture Frank Gehry and his firm Gehry Partners in the use of 3D product-development software across the so-called 'life cycle' of construction projects. This approach is demonstrated in Mr Gehry's completed works, such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the Experience Music Project in Seattle and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.