At Birmingham University where an ageing 1950s building with a leaky roof once stood, a new facility has been opened to help students and small companies understand every aspect of design.
The Design Centre, in the School of Engineering, intends to be a one-stop shop for students from any university department.
The £580,000 development replaces a complex which had included some office space and computer suites.
Dr Mark Jolly, head of the centre from the School of Engineering, said: "It is important for students to understand how crucial the design function is in the manufacturing process and to the end user.
"The old offices were poorly decorated, had formica tables, the roof leaked and the heating didn't work.
"We have totally refurbished the building into a new design space for anyone interested in design.
"You cannot create beautiful things in an awful environment."
The new centre includes computer facilities with CAD software and computer aided engineering software.
It also includes a CNC machine and a large 3D scan-ner which can scan objects up to half the size of a car.
There is also a flexible space for group work and design by hand.
Dr Jolly said: "We have got computers, but you cannot get away from the fact that many designs start out as sketches on the back of an envelope.
"Now we can stimulate all sorts of manufacturing processes, from forging, casting to forming.
"The Design Centre will provide a relaxed, stimulating environment that will encourage discussion and collaboration between students.
"It is intended that anyone from any discipline who has an interest in design can use the centre's facilities.
"For example, a civil engineering student could build a cardboard model of a bridge, scan it and create a file that can then be used to make a scaled model."
Dr Jolly said he hoped companies could also use the facility to help with their design work.
He said: "I hope local firms would find this an attractive site to use. Many small companies do not have these facilities to design their own products.
"In the past I have run a casting design centre, and that has helped more than 100 small companies in the region.
"Sometimes design is thought as two different processes - the functional side which makes the object work, and the aesthetic side. We want to bring the three aspects of design - aesthetics, function and manufacture - together."
Archaeologists will be also be able to build a picture of the past by recreating artefacts that no longer exist or cannot be handled by creating a 3D picture or model.
Professor Vince Gaffney, director of the HP Visual and Spatial Technology Centre, said: "Culture and heritage in Britain is now worth more than £50 billion per annum to the UK economy.
"In an increasingly visual society our future commercial success hinges on how we present and recreate contemporary society and past environments.
"The Design Centre is an exciting initiative to bring together sciences and the arts in an innovative, collaborative environment which can realise the full potential of our young designers.
"From 3D scanning to virtual worlds the designers of the future will use their skills not to reflect the world, but to form it." ..SUPL: